Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Meeting with Mayo

The residents of the Keith Building had a meeting with key members of the Mayo Group to review our concerns with their development and the problems we're having getting our issues with our building resolved. I was unable to attend, but 5 other residents did, and did a great job. Since I'm not one to be left out I got a briefing from the others and wrote the following letter to city council president James Cowdell, copied all the residents for which I have email addresses, as well as Ed O'donnell from the Mayo Group. As an aside, so far Ed O'Donnell has been very responsive to our issues. I hope it continues. If it does it may just improve Mayo Group's reputation.

Warning, I'm a bad speller, so I apologize in advance for some lapses.

To: James Cowdell
From: Mark Miller
Subject: Keith Building Condominium Residents Meeting With Mayo Group 03/21/06


Mr. Cowdell,

Thank you for arranging the meeting between the residents of the Keith Building and the Mayo Group representatives. Although I was unable to attend I had extensive conversation about the meeting with fellow residents shortly afterwards. I believe the final outcome of the meeting was that of assurances from the Mayo Group that they would address our punch list and warranty items, and that they would make every effort to ensure the demolition and development against our east wall proceeds with care. Since this was promised in your presence we should feel some measure of security that the assurances will come to fruition. I, like the other residents, am quite skeptical. I do, however, appreciate your efforts, Mr. Cowdell. Before I explain my skepticism I’d like to express my concerns and review my understanding of Mayo Group’s assurances.

My Concerns, there are only three:

* Mayo Group will damage our east wall through negligence or poor workmanship. This can happen either during demolition or development of the adjacent building. This is significant in that it will be extremely costly to repair - financially impacting every resident.

* Mayo Group will build their wall in a fashion that impairs our ability to repair or maintain our wall. For example: instead of abutting our east wall instead building next to it with a gap of 4 feet or less, which would either hamper or make it impossible for us to repair the wall should incidental damage occur during development or in the future.

* Mayo Group will ignore our needs and move on to the new development prior to resolving our issues, and consequently ignore our issues indefinitely.

My Understanding and Response:

* Mayo Group says they will emplace an insurance policy, as is common practice I believe, that will cover the repair costs of any damage that may arise from the development.

An insurance policy must be one where we have the liberty to invoke the policy independently of Mayo Group. Any dependence on Mayo Group for action will be unacceptable given our history with them.

* The development plan must go through inspectional services which would apply building guidelines to prevent poor design practices.

Dependence on inspectional services is questionable. We need an independent review by an engineer of our choosing with guaranteed funding by Mayo Group. By law inspectional services can rely on the project architect in a codified relationship of trust to approve all project work as meeting requirements; thus, removing inspectional services from actually monitoring the project. This happened with the Keith Building. The intake and exhaust pipes for the furnaces in the 2nd floor units are not secured every 3 feet per spec., instead there is a single mount at the floor and a single long 12 foot stretch of 3 inch PVC pipes to the ceiling, which bangs loudly inside the walls when the furnace runs. The south wall was also in danger of collapsing, but the structural issue was caught during a late independent home inspection, and was apparently something the project architect was completely unaware of, although the building passed CO inspection

* Mayo Group will address our punch list and “reasonable” warranty items a soon as practicable.

It has come to my attention that Mayo Group has just started arranging repair times with some residents to address punch-list items. Also, it is unclear what is meant by “reasonable” warranty items. I believe we may need your help, Mr. Cowdell, in arbitrating the meaning of “reasonable.”

* The residents at the meeting clearly communicated our lack of faith in Mayo Groups assurances.

Assurances are most certainly not enough to assuage my concern. We must have an agreement in writing, overseen by the council. Mayo Group has actively demonstrated that their assurances mean little. Having assurances in your presence also is questionable because they also have recent history of ignoring the law and consequently those who govern.

* The city will ensure we the residents are notified of all impending meetings regarding the Mayo Group development.

I am grateful that you, Mr. Cowdell, have taken an interest in ensuring that we and Mayo Group resolve our differences. It is imperative we have your full support throughout this process, and I look forward to your positive presence going forward. In return, we will naturally support you in your future endeavors.

I believe I’ve finished stating my business with you. I am of course open to any corrections, update, and expansion of my understanding. Stretching roughly four pages, this letter is a bit long winded. However, what follows is a bit of history and a great deal of anecdotal frustration explaining why I don’t trust the Mayo Group, and why we are skeptical and cynical. You should read it. It is part of the foundation of my distrust.

In mid June of 2005 I reported to Dennis Joy of the Mayo Group, who I know attended last nights meeting, the absence of automatic door closers, the arms at the top of the doors that pull them shut, on three of the fire doors in the stairwells: the lobby, 2nd floor east, and top floor west. This is a fire code violation. The building should never have received its certificate of occupancy with the arms missing, but these things happen. It was a minor oversight on the part of Mayo Group, easy to fix. These arms are very important. They prevent fire from spreading from floor to floor and more importantly prevent smoke and fire from entering the stairwells, the only emergency exit for top floor residents such as me. It is an instance where a small simple device produces big benefits. By mid August 2005 the Mayo Group still had not put the automatic closers in place. Mayo Group and Dennis Joy in particular did not return my calls concerning this, my punch list items, and the water damage I was experiencing through my windows. I was compelled to report this to the Lynn Fire Prevention Department in August. The LFPD inspected our building and found it in violation and notified Mayo to resolve the issue. The LFPD re-inspected our building 2 weeks later, September, and found the building still in violation. They began fining Mayo Group in order to compel Mayo Group to fix the violation. Mayo Group put in the automatic closers the first week of January 2006 – *6 months* after my first complaint, 4 months after the LFPD cited them for the violation. Six months, Mr. Cowdell. Mayo Group demonstrated complete disregard for the authority of the LFPD, complete disrespect of the law, and Dennis Joy demonstrated tremendous hubris by plying us with assurances last night when the city’s own records shows his ambivalence for our safety.

Dennis Joy, and by association Mayo Group, is not trustworthy. I believe he probably told you a story about the tremendous growing pains the Mayo Group is experiencing and how our issues fell through the cracks through various reorganizations and such. How can Dennis Joy then account for forgetting all the issues we were facing when every unit resident was calling him wondering when things were going to be fixed? That’s 10 individual residents hounding him for days, weeks, and months. How did we fall through the cracks when we didn’t even give him a chance to forget us? There is a reason we all have his cell phone number, Mr. Cowdell. If we left a message with the front office, absolutely nothing would happen. So, we started calling him directly. He responded at first, but there was no action and then absolutely no response at all. Frustrated, unit 4A, Mike Crouse, whom you met last night, called his attorney to help remedy the problem with leaking windows. Only then did the Mayo Group send a team with a boom to caulk the exterior of the windows – two weeks later. That is the root problem. Dennis Joy is terrific at giving assurances, paying lip service, but there is never any action unless forced. And since he represents the Mayo Group, assurances with no action is what we have come to expect from the Mayo Group. We have been receiving assurances from the very first day we moved in, yet when it rains it still rains *inside* unit 2A.

And there are other important instances.

It is only now when forced into the public light in embarrassment that Mayo Group is responding in some way to us. Yet even with this we are still waiting to see significant action. It is important we act, because any adjacent development can compromise the structural integrity of our homes. With Mayo Group’s proven history of unresponsiveness we can expect little good. No reasonable person will tell them to tear down their building once built, even if it damages our homes. They will assure us that they will make repairs, yet nothing will happen. This is what we have been conditioned by our experience with Mayo Group to expect. We will be left living in Lynn embarrassed and saddened that our optimism encouraged us to move here -- and we will tell everyone.

We can resolve this, but we need your active participation, Mr. Cowdell. Thank you for your attention.


Mark Miller
54 Central Square, 4B
Keith Building Condominiums


sculpin said...

I am selling my condo in Lowell, and just got some pics up if you are interested in seeing what they were converting for condos 20 years ago. The url is

Marcus said...

Beautiful building! Looks like a nice space.