By Mark Hallum
An abandoned property in Bayside Hills has the neighboring residents itching with discomfort.
The home at 215-06 49th Ave. has sat for four years in disrepair with three different building permits posted on the construction fence. The latest is an Alt-1 permit issued in April 2016 for work on the cellar and the second and third floors. There is currently a stop work order on the building for civil penalties due on multiple violations, the Department of Buildings site shows.
The property, however, shows no signs of human intervention. Weeds have grown above the level of the fence and mosquitoes have established dominance in the air while raccoons terrorize people just taking their garbage out to the street at night.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) stood with Bayside Hills Civic Association President Michael Feiner and about 15 residents last Friday to discuss the poor quality of life for neighbors resulting from the neglect and asked the city Department of Health and Hygiene, Buildings and Sanitation to act in the interest of public health and safety.
Residents have reached out to the owner, known by the name Woei Chen Lee, repeatedly without success.
“All too often we have this situations in very well maintained middle-class neighborhoods, where homeowners are paying some of the highest property taxes in the country. And what we ask for in return for that is a quality of life and a responsive city in terms of city services,” Avella said. “The city seems incapable of dealing with these abandoned construction sites.”
Joana Fegos has lived next door to the house in question for 30 years. Her home and the landscape in front is groomed with the highest level of care, as are most homes on the block. Fegos keeps a bottle of bug spray by her front door for the mosquitoes that swarm her every time she leaves the house. One night, as she was taking out the trash, a raccoon from next door hissed and ran at her, causing her to drop the garbage in the street and driving Fegos back inside.
What is most apparent about Fegos’ home is the brand new sidewalk in front. Within the past year, the Department of Transportation issued a summons for a crack in the concrete, and Fegos replaced the stretch in front of house. Just a few feet over, however, the sidewalk in front of the abandoned house is covered with cracks and the grass along the curb is overgrown with grass.
“Right now, what we’re dealing with is health and safety issues for the community, and really, it’s bad,” resident Larry Laffan said, who also voiced concern over the spread of Zika virus from mosquitoes.
Feiner said he had recently raised the issue of abandoned homes to Mayor Bill de Blasio who replied his main priority is currently affordable housing.
“This is something that should never happen – this is a monstrosity,” Feiner said, adding that he would use his contacts with the Department of Buildings to resolve the issue.
According to Avella, there are estimated to be 200 properties in his senate district which are abandoned, a problem which he has tried to address for a number of years.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall