Elected Officials Take On Abandoned Property
State Senator Tony Avella was joined by the North East Flushing Civic Association at a press conference in front of an unsightly abandoned corner property, located at 24-19 Francis Lewis Blvd., to address the complete lack of maintenance of the site by the city.
The property has been an eyesore for at least ten years. In 2009, the property owner stopped paying property taxes and the site has now become a storage unit for trucks, dumpsters and scattered garbage. Although the city Department of Buildings issued a full stop work order earlier this year, residents and businesses are still forced to live by an unsightly lot that has become a blight on their neighborhood.
“This lot has been a thorn in the side of the community for over a decade,” stated Avella. “The owner has not made any attempt to clear out or maintain the lot and it has become a constant target of graffiti vandals and litter. Usually I say, ‘there’s everything in there except the kitchen sink.’ However, in this case, there actually is a kitchen sink. A haggard looking lot like this creates a financial disaster for neighbors, who gradually see their property values decrease.”
Avella was informed by the Department of Finance that a tax lien was placed on the property because of $15,809.86 in unpaid property taxes and sanitation violations since 2009. That lien was supposedly sent to the city Tax Lien Trust earlier this year. However, it now appears that the city has yet to follow through on enforcing its lien.
President of the North East Flushing Civic Association Peter Brancazio stated, “Unless something is done about it, this site will remain in its present state indefinitely. The fence is an ugly, poorly constructed, graffiti covered eyesore located in a prominent location on Francis Lewis Boulevard. It is a constant reminder of the failure of the Department of Buildings to act on complaints and get after violators. The owner should not be allowed to simply ignore his assessments and financial responsibilities.”
Recently, a portion of the construction fencing collapsed making the overgrown and litter filled property even more visible to the community. In response to what has become an epidemic of abandoned properties throughout North and Eastern Queens, Avella has formed a task force made up of local civic organization leaders to identify similar properties.
Avella continued, “The civics are compiling lists of properties in their communities that need to be addressed. At the same time I am working on possible legislation that would amend and strengthen the city’s ability to seize abandoned sites where the owner refuses to pay property taxes and has long outstanding fines and violations. These properties are cancers to communities and the city needs to take action to protect its taxpaying homeowners.”