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City takes 69th Avenue house owner to court

City officials are bringing the owner of this Forest Hills home to court in August over accusations that the abandoned house is unsafe. Photo by Anna Gustafson
By Anna Gustafson

Forest Hills residents who have been fighting for decades to get the city to do something about a house they said went from being one of the most beautiful homes in the neighborhood to a horror show that is filled with trash and poses serious safety risks to neighbors may finally get some results.

Last week, they found out their efforts were being realized and the city was taking the owner to Queens Supreme Court in August over a city Department of Buildings violation that says the home is unsafe.

“It’s a miracle the kids who play around here haven’t gotten hurt,” said Maria Frankel, 74, who lives next to the house at 93-07 69th Ave. “There’s broken windows, there’s been glass all over the place.”

Frankel, who moved to the neighborhood in 1968, said the house was once one of the “best-looking places” in the area.

“There was a doctor living there then,” Frankel said. “I saw his daughter drive by the place one day, and she said her father would be turning over in his grave if he saw this.”

According to the DOB, the house’s listed owner, Nancy Chao Sun, died in 2007. Stanley Sun, her son, was unavailable for comment.

The house has been abandoned for about 30 years, according to neighbors, and has become increasingly dilapidated and filled with trash. When Frankel opened the back door to the house, which is not locked, she stood there dismayed at the piles of trash, magazines and other papers piled several feet high.

“What if there’s a fire?” said Gertrude DiCapua, 85, a nearby neighbor who used to spend much of her time picking up the outside of the house, where broken glass and other trash would accumulate.

The neighbors said they are not sure how the trash gets into the house and have not seen anyone bring the litter to the home.

“I’d often go there and clean up the front and back, but I can’t do that much anymore,” DiCapua said. “I’m 85 years old.”

Frankel said she was especially concerned about the roof, which she said is unstable, If the roof collapsed, it could harm her house, which is connected to the dilapidated structure. DOB records online show inspectors have recorded “no serious damage” on the roof.

“The roof is the most dangerous thing,” Frankel said. “I’m afraid to be in my third floor because of it. Most of the time I just stay in my living room.”

For decades, the neighbors have signed petitions calling on city officials to rectify the situation. Numerous politicians have gotten involved, including Forest Hills’ former state Assemblyman, Michael Cohen, and City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills).

“I’ve written to the Buildings Department, the Health Department, to various agencies,” Koslowitz said. “It’s an eyesore, and inside the place there’s junk all over. If someone lit a match, it would be gone and it’s an attached house, which makes that a lot worse.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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