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Photo by Mark Hallum
An abandoned Flushing home has captured the attention of residents and State Sen. Tony Avella as a potential fire-hazard.
By Mark Hallum

Two abandoned vehicles full of newspapers left behind by hoarders at a house in Flushing have drawn the attention of residents and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who held a news conference to call upon the city to remove the fire hazard posed by the contents of the cars.

Avella said Stella Beckman, the deceased owner of the brick bungalow at 50-19 175th Place, is still receiving violation notices in the mail at the abandoned property a decade after her death. Beckman’s son, a hoarder, according to one neighbor, filled not only the house but both vehicles in the driveway with stacks of New York Times issues dating back to 1992. The newspapers are packed so tightly into the back of one of the vehicles, a Hyundai Excel, that moisture has caused them to expand and shatter the back windshield.

The house has been sealed up with concrete by authorities following a small fire in 2014, according to neighbor who has lived in the area since 1990.

“This is probably one of the best examples I’ve come across while I’ve been in government of how stupidly the city operates,” Avella said. “Here you have a situation where there were numerous violations. The owner, unfortunately, passed away, I guess it’s 11 years now. And yet, every time there’s a violation the city keeps sending the dead person notices… Anybody who walks through this block sees what a nice neighborhood this is. The homeowners pay attention to their property, they keep it nice, and yet they live next to this eyesore. The city has to step up, demolish the building, level the ground, fence it off and sell it.”

Residents stood with Avella to voice their concerns about the property, especially since it has been the scene of teenagers smoking and raccoons taking up residence.

“The house has already been on fire, the firemen came, they created large holes in the attic to vent it,” said Peter Cilla, who has lived in the neighborhood for three years, “Now we have rascally raccoons. There is a family of five to 10, they’re out during the day with their children. We have children here, there is a school only two blocks away. There’s a chance for an encounter and you could have a serious injury. Also, it looks like a dilapidated dump and it darkens the neighborhood. We would like the city to do what we pay taxes for it to do.”

According to Elaine Marmiroli, a resident in the area since 1952, it is the first time this type of problem has occurred and she worries about another fire and the integrity of her neighborhood.

“So many people want to buy this property,” Marmiroli said. “The house at the corner sold for a million dollars a few months ago. This is not a poor neighborhood. Theset houses go for $600,000 to $800,000. It’s not cheap, and the city just ignores us totally because we’re not poor and we’re not rich. We’re middle class.”

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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