By Gina Martinez
The city last month officially closed down a Whitestone lot used illegally for commercial storage that neighbors and pols including state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) fumed over for nearly two years.
Avella celebrated the Department of Buildings-led padlocking of the site last week, making a victory visit to the lot on 24th Ave. between 149th and 150th St. that he first demanded local officials shutter back in 2016.
The parcel, which is owned by Whitestone contractor Salvatore Valenza, sits in a residential zone, but was being used to store commercial-construction materials, equipment, and debris, prompting the state pol and residents to complain about its unsightly and unsanitary conditions.
“The owner egregiously flaunts the law by storing his commercial trucks and construction materials, including gravel, bricks, wood, and tools inside the lot, which is conducive to a rodent infestation as well as a breeding ground for mosquitoes,” Avella said at his first press conference about the lot in August 2016.
Two residences stand on either side of the site, which trucks frequently visited in the early morning, making loud noises that disrupted the otherwise quiet block, according to neighbors, who also blasted Valenza for posting “no parking” and “active driveway” signs around the property even though it lacked a curb cut and was not supposed to be used as car storage.
And after years of calling for its closure, Avella said he is very happy the buildings department locked up the lot to prevent anyone from accessing it, and criticized Valenza for dishonestly using the site at his neighbors’ expense.
“I am relieved that after all of this disregard for the law the city of New York has finally stepped in to take action,” the state senator said. “It’s a disgrace how this property owner can just choose to ignore the law and bully local residents by making them believe they would be at risk of being ticketed or towed if they parked in front of this lot.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart