Lot troubles could end for Maspeth man – QNS.com

Lot troubles could end for Maspeth man

For 65 years, Joseph Santucci has lived on a quiet Maspeth street keeping the landscape around his house looking neat and green.
Santucci, 91, continued to maintain the landscape - including a lot that he said is not on his property but actually on city property - until a few years ago when his arthritis worsened, and he could no longer physically do it.
“I kept this place like a garden; people really used to admire it,” said Santucci, who worked for the city’s Department of Buildings for 11 years. “The lot is going to stay there like that as long as I’m alive because I can’t do anything.”
Santucci said that the lot has gotten worse throughout the past few years with people throwing garbage and littering the stretch, and multiple city agencies have threatened him with fines for failing to care for the property. He recently received a letter from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) threatening a $1,000 a day fine as well as a lien on his house if he does not clean it, according to Santucci.
After he received the letter from the DOHMH, Santucci said he was deeply disturbed and immediately wrote a letter back to the department.
“This is not my property; this is city property,” Santucci said.
Officials inspected the lot in November of 2007 and after finding rodent violations on the lot, the DOHMH officials asked Santucci, who they believed was the owner of the lot, to correct the violations. Meanwhile, the DOHMH was informed that the property was not Santucci’s, but rather city property and the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) should clean up the property since it falls under its jurisdiction.
Matthew LiPani, a spokesperson for the DSNY, said that sanitation officials have recently cleaned the debris and garbage at the site, after complaints came into 3-1-1. However, LiPani said that sanitation officials could not clean up the tree branches and wood at the lot because that falls under city’s Parks and Recreation Department’s jurisdiction.
Abigail Lootens, a spokesperson for Parks and Recreation, said the department would send an inspector to the site, and if it is on public property, the department would clean the entire site.
However, this is not the first trouble Santucci has had with the lot. The area, which is on the side of his house, does not have a sidewalk, and Santucci said he couldn’t put in a sidewalk because the elevation and grade of the street would have to be fixed first before a sidewalk could be installed.
Santucci has reached out to a number of elected officials to solicit help in cleaning the lot, and he said Congressmember Joseph Crowley had workers come by to clean the lot about four years ago, but he has received no assistance since then.
“All I want is for someone to come around every once in a while and clean it up,” Santucci said.

More from Around New York