By Joe Anuta
The city Department of Transportation owns a small grassy plot of land in College Point, but condo owners nearby have been footing the bill for its upkeep.
Representatives from Bay Park Estates said they have been paying for landscaping for the small green parcel of land, at the corner of Poppenhusen Avenue and 115th Street, since the 1980s because of a contract that has long expired, if it ever existed at all.
In 1986, the then-owner of the condo complex apparently entered into an agreement with the city. In exchange for a 15-year tax break, the owner would provide upkeep to the verdant parcel owned by the city.
That tax break expired, but the condo is still stuck with the cleaning bill, according to the realty firm that represents the condos.
“We’ve been maintaining since 2004, but not getting the tax abatement,” said Janice Panero, of Lovett Realty. “And that’s really not fair.”
Not only does the condo board have to dish out money, it could be liable if one of the landscapers is injured on the job, according to Panero, and that is a risk the property owners should not have to take, since they do not own the property, she said.
In addition, the agreement that was supposedly signed and kept the condo trimming the hedges and lawn all these years has not been located, according to Panero, which leaves her wondering why Bay Park Estates should be responsible for cleaning the area.
DOT confirmed that it indeed owns the land, according to a spokesman.
Bay Park had long assumed it owned the grassy spot with choice views of the Manhattan skyline until earlier this year, when it wanted to double check with the city Parks Department on whether or not it could put in some new plantings, according to Paul Kupetsky, a condo owner who represents others in the enclave.
Kupetsky was surprised to learn that the mini-park area was actually mapped as a city street and thus under the purview of DOT.
DOT said it has been in contact with local stakeholders to set up a transfer of maintenance rights under which the condo could lease the land from the city.
But Kupetsky said he reached out to DOT and did not receive any offers to transfer ownership of the property.
“They’re not taking responsibility for it,” he said.
He would like to see DOT pay for landscaping, compensate the condo association or turn the property over.
Another option, he said, is to combine the swath into the confines of MacNeil Park and have Parks maintain it.
“We’re willing to work with them,” he said. “No one wants to see it turn into an eyesore.”
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.