An abandoned Bellerose house that has been a problem for neighbors for more than a decade became the scene Sunday in the political battleground between state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) and his Democratic challenger, Tony Avella.
Avella held a news conference outside 80-44 233rd St., a house that has been boarded up and left to rot for at least 10 years, to call on the city to fix up the premises and hold the owner accountable. Before the meeting with the dozen residents who live on the block began, Padavan showed up outside the house and offered to help them devise a solution.
Neither Padavan nor Avella had an opponent in the primary, so the two will square off Nov. 2 in the general election.
The two-story house is surrounded with 4-foot tall shrubs, weeds and garbage and the wood covering up the doors and windows is deteriorating.
“It drops the value of my property and it’s an eyesore,” said Felcia Farino, who lives on the block.
The home has had 11 complaints filed against it since 2002 and it currently has two outstanding building code violations, one from 2002 and the other from last year, for unsafe conditions, city Department of Buildings records show. The city lists the owner as Ho Seng Tai, who is believed to live in China, according to Avella.
The former councilman said he became aware of the issue while campaigning door to door in the area for Padavan’s seat and said he was appalled the city had not enforced the violations on the owner or better maintained the area.
“This is unsightly, no question about it. But what are they doing? Nothing,” he said.
Avella also laid blame on the leaders in the neighborhood who have not put pressure on the city. Padavan, who showed up uninvited according to Avella, disagreed.
The senator sent a letter to the DOB and the city Department of Health in July, urging them to take a look at the abandoned building because he had been receiving numerous complaints. He said he sent another letter to the mayor’s office Monday urging for a more “aggressive” approach toward solving the problem.
“We are going to do the best we can to get rid of this eyesore,” he told the residents.
A representative from the DOB said all it can do is issue violations against the owner and fine him anytime he does not comply.
“Property owners are responsible for maintaining their buildings in a safe and lawful manner at all times. In this case, the owner has failed to do so, and the department has issued multiple violations as a result,” the department said in a statement.
In the meantime, the neighbors said the increased awareness can lead to swifter action.
“All the politicians are showing up so I’m very happy they got together to complain about it,” said Frank Tower, president of the Rocky Hill Civic Association.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@c
©2010 Community News Group
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