I used to live below two kids who, to the best of my knowledge, spent the better part of their days dropping heavy objects on the floor. My most solid working theory is that these two spritely girls clambered up on their tallest piece of furniture and let gravity do its worst on some bowling balls, because that is precisely the kind of nonsense I used to pull as a youthful monster and karma comes for us all. Anyway, I must imagine that we have all had upstairs neighbors like these: neighbors who make a point of strapping on the ol' steel-toed boots in order to rearrange all their furniture on a nightly basis, jouncing you from your restful slumber at 2 a.m. sharp; who sound as though they're undertaking a rowdy sports game feet above your poor aching head.
Well, but what if they actually were? What if all those oddly familiar noises—the clattering thud of galloping footsteps, the horrible relentless squeak of rubber on wood varnish, the reverberating thrum of a metal rim immediately post-dunk—were exactly what you thought they were? Yes, sometimes it sounds like your upstairs neighbors are playing basketball, and sometimes, they actually are. Take, for example, these Upper West Siders who have filed a lawsuit over a suspected basketball court their fellow co-op residents may or may not have installed during the course of an apartment renovation.
According to the NY Post, Jesse Levine and Laurie Silver allege that Laurin Grollman and Robert Herzog made an obnoxious addition when they combined two apartments on the 7th floor of 160 W. 95th Street in 2014. The next year, Grollman and Herzog allegedly began hosting rambunctious sports parties, to which Levine and Silver attribute the "unreasonably high-decibel noises, stomping, and excessive vibration which pour through the walls, ceilings, radiators, and other conduits that transmit sound," according to the suit.
"When Mr. Levine confronted Ms. Grollman in a neighborly fashion," the suit continues, "she told him explicitly that if he did not like basketball games, he should leave." Levine and Silver contend that they are not the only residents peeved about the "constant pounding, earth shattering vibrations, and excessive noise" generated by this athletic excess; indeed, the co-op hired acoustic engineers to investigate the source of the alleged racket, but no one in the building knows what they found, because Grollman has declined to share the findings outlined in their report.
The alleged basketball enthusiasts, meanwhile, argue that they merely put up a Nerf hoop, and that they also built in six layers of sound-proofing after some of their downstairs neighbors complained. It bears noting that Levine and Silver live two floors above Grollman and Herzog.
"Basically, we did a renovation in our apartment and we drew lines on the floor because we thought they would look cute, because we have two boys," Herzog told the Post. "There is no basketball court." And for what it's worth, he added, the boys have lately gotten sucked into the whole Fortnite thing, having forsaken the hoop for the entire winter.
In any case, according to the lawsuit, a whole raft of problems that developed between Levine and Silver and Grollman and Herzog can be traced back to the alleged basketball court: The snowballing controversy allegedly took a toll on Levine's mental health, driving him to "self-help remedies," which in turn led him to plead guilty to harassment of Grollman. According to the Post, security cameras caught Levine damaging the lock on Grollman's door, a repair that cost hundreds of dollars, and also lifting one of her Amazon orders from the lobby. That "objectionable conduct" prompted the co-op board to order Silver and Levine to leave their apartment, but because Grollman used to serve as the co-op's board president, they have accused the body of pro-Grollman bias, and are suing to stay put. According to their attorney, Philippe Gerschel, a judge is allowing them to do so, at least for now.
"I am very happy that the Judge signed our temporary restraining order preventing the Co-op board from taking any action to evict my clients pending this action," Gerschel said in a statement to Gothamist. "I am confident that this was the correct decision. It is shocking that a Co-Op board president thought it would be OK to build a basketball court inside an Upper West Side apartment and torment her neighbors for years."
Totally unrelated but maybe now is a good time to ask a native New Yorker how to handle hostile neighbors?