In addition to the luxury living, many amenities, first-rate security, and year-round fun activities that North Shore Towers and Country Club offers its residents and members, another benefit is its design and the engineering team that keeps it all humming.
What helps make that possible is Sal Castro, North Shore Towers and Country Club chief engineer, who has been working there for a total of 42 years, including as chief engineer for the past 34 of those years.
Castro joined the North Shore Towers and Country Club staff in 1977 and, prior to being named chief engineer, served as watch engineer for three years operating the energy plant there on various night shifts and energy plant foreman for five years leading maintenance repair crews working on generators, boilers, chillers, water pumps, and cooling towers.
The North Shore Towers design is “unique because we were never connected to the utility grid, so we generate all of our own power on site,” Castro says. “On one hand, this makes the 24/7 operation critical, and this can be challenging. But we have 100 percent redundancy of generators, so while three are needed at any one time, there are always three more ready to go if needed, increasing the reliability.”
“On the other hand,” he notes, “during the times there were long grid outages in the Long Island and New York City area, North Shore Towers had constant power, which can be rewarding.”
In fact, the North Shore Towers plant reliability has, on average, been “generally better than grid power reliability over the last 40 years,” he says.
Further explaining the unique design of the North Shore Towers energy system, he says its co-generators “simultaneously generate electricity and free steam that is used to heat all the water for domestic use in the three buildings, as well as some of the heat and air conditioning.”
The local combined generator design, meanwhile, is “more efficient without the long transmission lines, and actually uses less fuel and has less overall emissions than the same energy generated by a utility and a separate boiler for hot water,” he says.
The end result: Residents “share in that common area energy savings of approximately $1 million per year, reflected in the maintenance charges,” Castro says.
For Castro, it’s been “rewarding learning the ever-changing needs” of North Shore Towers and “helping to design upgrades and retrofits to meet those needs, and managing the construction of replacement equipment after keeping the old equipment running 40 years,” he notes.
Among the many reasons Castro says he’s enjoyed working at North Shore Towers is, “we have a great staff who are committed to providing uninterrupted services to our residents.” The power plant department staff includes a total of 11 people, including one person who handles all overnight and weekend shifts, so the residents of North Shore Towers are taken care of around the clock, seven days a week, he notes.
While there are “normal equipment breakdowns, they go largely unnoticed by the residents, as standby equipment is quickly put in use before any effect of equipment downtime can be felt,” Castro says.
Glen Kotowski was the General Manager at North Shore Towers on Aug. 14, 2003, when 50 million people in eight eights and Canada lost electric power for an extended period.
“As the darkness of night set in, I took an elevator ride to the roof to observe few lights, other than vehicle headlights, as I looked at Manhattan to the West, Long Island to the east, to the north and to the south and saw the eerie darkness,” he recalls. “Since we are not connected to the electrical grid, the 3,000 residents of North Shore Towers were virtually unaffected other than by the hundreds of visitors who saw lights shining in the darkness, following our lights to find and enjoy the use of one of our two restaurants, our movie theater and our air conditioning to stay cool on a hot summer day.”
A second day that’s vivid in Kotowski’s memory is Oct. 29, 2012, when many people in the tristate area lost power for days and weeks due to Hurricane Sandy.
“Our population temporarily doubled to about 6,000 as friends and family members of our residents sought refuge at North Shore Towers, which maintained full power, water and heat during and after the storm,” he recalls. “Once again, our restaurants were available to feed the masses and our in-house staff performed exceptionally to provide additional service needs of our guests while continuing to provide service to our residents. As a retired NYPD Deputy Inspector, I have to say it was visionary when North Shore Towers was built to install an independent power plant capable of maintaining power during natural disasters and emergencies. The fact that our equipment and feeder cables are not exposed to the elements makes us significantly less susceptible to the loss of power during storms. North Shore Towers is fortunate to have the dedication of our Chief Engineer, Sal Castro and his staff to do an outstanding job keep the power plant operational and well maintained.”
Of course, in addition to its first-rate engineering and security staff, North Shore Towers and Country Club offers an 18-hole golf course, five Har-Tru tennis courts, indoor and outdoor pools, a sauna, steam rooms, a hot tub, a state-of-the-art gym offering classes including Pilates, and many other activities. The Club offers classes that include boxing and Pilates Reformer, a special exercise machine that’s “good for stretching your body,” says Country Club Manager Mary Anne Langone. “A lot of our golfers take the Reformer class because it helps with their flexibility,” she adds.
Pool activities include outdoor water classes, volleyball and several outdoor pool parties. There are basketball courts, boxing and billiards rooms, ping-pong and shuffleboard also. In addition, there’s shopping, a movie theater, barbecues, a garden club and many entertainment events.
For more Country Club details and to book a tour, call Mary Anne Langone at 718-428-5030 ext. 0.