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Residents bothered by abandoned home in Fresh Meadows

By Madina Toure

Residents are complaining about unsafe conditions at an abandoned home in Fresh Meadows that is still in the name of its dead property owner.

At a news conference last week, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said the owner of the property at 50-19 175th Place, Stella Beckman, died in 2001 but is still listed as the owner. The property was sealed and declared vacant by the city in January 2014.

Residents have complained that the property has overgrown trees, shrubs and weeds and that raccoons come onto the roof of the house. They also noted the abandoned cars on the side of the house with numerous items such as newspapers.

A neighbor who requested anonymity to protect her children said she has seen kids doing drugs at the home. She also said the property is littered with rats and dog waste. She has sent letters, along with fellow resident Monica Cavounis.

“It’s really dangerous for our neighborhood,” the unnamed resident said.

Avella said Beckman is still being taxed for the property. Quarterly property tax bill statements from the city Finance Department showed that the last payment was made in 2011, he said, and the property has yet to enter the foreclosure process.

He also found that the liens—the right to possess property belonging to another individual until debt owed by the individual is discharged—on the overdue property taxes were sold to New York City Tax Lien Trusts.

Avella and his attorneys have been unable to figure out the investors or the services that constitute the trust, calling the city’s trust system “a failure.”

“This is a nice, quiet middle class neighborhood,” Avella said at a rally in front of the home. “Why do they have to live with this?”

A spokeswoman for the city Department of Housing Preservation & Development said the agency performed a full-seal of the property, emergency repairs, issued violations and inspected it numerous times.

HPD inspectors are slated to revisit the site this week, she said.

A Fedex package sent Oct. 15 from Ira Salzman, a lawyer, to Franklin Beckman, the owner’s son, was on the door of the house. It is unclear who owns the property.

Salzman could not be reached for comment.

Avella believes the estate may have another property in Forest Hills, where the son may be living.

Franklin Beckman, 68, who is married, is listed as living at 50-19 175th Place. Attempts to reach Beckman by phone and email were not successful.

An Oct. 14 complaint from neighbors notes that the building’s exterior is somewhat maintained and that the structure is still abandoned, with abandoned cars next to it, according to the DOB.

The property has had seven other complaints between January 2014 and September involving people seen entering the property despite a vacate order, a fire and a hole in the roof.

Stella Beckman was $4,000 fine for violation of parking regulations in a residential district and $250 due to problems such as a hole in the roof in June 2014.

Finance Department records classify the home as a one-family dwelling whose tax rate is 19.157 percent. The home’s market value is $774,000 and the assessed value is $36,054. The property is not receiving exemptions.

HPD conducted an inspection of the property in August for an accumulation of refuse and rubbish, raccoons at the front and rear yards and overgrown trees, shrubs and weeds. The property is also facing a fine of $10,284.01.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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