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Dumped chips spark Fresh Meadows fury

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A group of Fresh Meadows residents has repeatedly complained that a truckload of wood chips that was dumped in an empty lot near their houses in April still has not been cleaned up.

The lot is on the east side of 185th Street, between 64th and 67th avenues. According to neighbors of the lot, the area has a bad smell, and people passing by often mistake the area for a dumping ground, and toss their garbage on the lot.

“The dirty stuff is still there and no one’s taking care of it,” said Jian Zhao, who lives at 64-45 185th St. “Someone has to do something.”

The wood chips were dumped on April 24 by employees of the Fresh Meadows Development, a 3,444-unit housing complex, whose offices are located at 64th Ave. and 188th St., said James Gallagher, the president of the Fresh Meadows Home Owners Civic Association.

According to Gallagher, when residents called police, the dumpers produced a work order permit which stated that they were putting the wood chips in the lot to “beautify” the location.

Residents, however, did not think that the wood chips made the lot more beautiful. They voiced their complaints at a community board meeting, which prompted Gallagher to contact Councilmen Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) and David Weprin (D-Hollis) about the situation.

Eventually, an inspector with the city Sanitation Department was sent to inspect the site, Gallagher said. After the inspector saw that the wood chips were piled high, he went to the Fresh Meadows Development office and served them with a summons for illegal dumping.

The Sanitation Department could not be reached for comment.

The Fresh Meadows Development admits to dumping the chips, but denies that the plot of land belongs to them.

“That little sliver of property does not belong to anybody,” said Irving Spodek, the general manager of the Fresh Meadows Development. “I can’t take responsibility for something that’s not mine.”

Spodek said the development put the wood chips there in an effort to make it look better. He added that the development did not need a permit to dump the chips there since the property apparently belonged to nobody.

Gallagher and residents, however, claim that the piece of land belongs to Fresh Meadows Development. In addition to cleaning up the wood chips, they are asking that the development put in a curb and a sidewalk at the location.

“It’s very dangerous. There are a lot of seniors out there, lots of children,” said Gallagher. “The cars come down very quickly.”

Spodek said that he could have workers from the Fresh Meadows Development pick up the wood chips, but had not done so because the wood chips were placed there to make the location look better.

Photographs of the dumping in action were taken by a neighbor of the lot.

Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com, or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 7:24 pm, October 10, 2011
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