Is Peaceful Life in the Townhouses a Pipe Dream?


David Gavilan

Peter Giambrone, resident of townhouse 32, stands in a flooded hallway after a clog caused the house’s toilet to flood.

Callie Anderson and Alexis Nieman

The lives of twenty-four Pace students have been turned upside down this fall semester, as they were forced to relocate out of their rooms at the townhouses because of major flooding. 

Townhouses four, 15, 16, and 32 were all affected by unrelated water leaks that have varied in the extent of damage done. Townhouse four just needed minor repairs from a faucet leak while more serious work is needed for townhouses 16 and 32. In townhouse 16, a hot water pipe for the second-floor bathroom burst, creating a lot of water damage on the first and second floor. Townhouse 32 flooded after the toilet clogged.

Students in three of these townhouses are temporarily relocated into different rooms across Alumni, Elm, Martin and North Halls. However, some relocated students instead chose to live with friends in another townhouse rather than move in with new roommates for a few weeks. Junior digital cinema and filmmaking major David Gavilan is one of these students.

Gavilan lived in townhouse 32 with his Alpha Chi Epsilon fraternity brothers. Gavilan said that the toilet clogged two days before the water pipe broke causing the flood. Residents unclogged the toilet, only for it to get backed up again later at night. The toilet flooded during the day while the residents were outside.

“We all ran inside to see that the water was already dripping down the living room fire detector,” explained Gavilan. “The third-floor hallway was a small river. Security then came after 30 minutes to finally shut off the water.”

According to Gavilan, the residents were first told to move out of the townhouse and then later assigned places to live in other residence halls.

“Four of us started commuting,” said Gavilan. “One of our housemates moved into Alumni while the others moved next door [to townhouse 33] onto the couches in the living room… [S]ome nights we even stay in our cars.”

Gavilan and some of his friends update their Instagram and Snapchat stories with how many days they’ve been “homeless.”

During the flood, some of the people’s belongings were damaged including papers Gavilan needed for class, food, and bags. Pace is not helping students get any damaged belongings back; rather, students were told to go through their home insurance. 

Relocated students were given $200 in Flex money with another $100 added every week they are not able to live in their townhouse. Gavilan said that this amount of compensation does not seem like enough because the money goes back to Pace anyway.

Construction continues on the townhouses so that students can move back into their homes. Aisha Moyla, the Director of Business, Planning, and Communications for Facilities and Capital Projects, says that they are hoping the repairs are done quickly and correctly for the sake of the students. 

“Repair crews are working as quickly as they can to get the affected townhouses fully operational. After repair work is completed, an independent industrial hygienist conducts an inspection to make sure that all the repair work was done thoroughly,” said Moyla. “We are optimistic that the residents of the affected townhouses will be back in the next week or so.”

Although the water leaks all happened around the same time, Moyla says they are unrelated, and that the health and safety of Pace students remain the highest priority. 

We are working closely with licensed contractors, inspectors, and professional cleaning services and adhering to the highest safety and standards of cleanliness to ensure that affected spaces are properly cleaned, repaired and safe for residents,” Moyla said. “We understand this has been a disruption to some students, and we are working diligently to complete these repairs as quickly and as smoothly as possible.”

Prior to the beginning of the school year, there were thorough checks of each room and each residence hall to make sure everything was in working order before students came in. According to Moyla, there were no signs of any issues or leaks at the time of the inspection. 

As for the future, Moyla is asking that students report issues in their rooms or houses as quickly as possible. 

“The best thing that can be done to prevent future problems is for students to report any facilities-related condition problems so we can address them in a timely way before a larger problem possibly develops,” Moyla stated. “Facilities conduct regular maintenance checks every summer. Any work that is needed to upkeep the townhouse community is completed. Every room is thoroughly checked by facilities and capital projects and residential life and housing.”

As for David Gavilan and the rest of townhouse 32, they will continue to take it day by day.

“We’re doing pretty well off for not living anywhere,” Gavilan said. “It’s been a bonding experience between all of us because it’s not every day that your house floods.”