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Avella asks owner to sell Brinckerhoff Cemetery

Senator Avella is calling on Brinckerhoff Cemetery’s owner to sell the landmarked cemetery to local preservation group.
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State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and members of Friends of Brinckerhoff Colonial Cemetery called on the owner of the neglected landmark to sell the land to the neighborhood preservation group.

The colonial burial ground, located at 182nd Street and 73rd Avenue in Fresh Meadows, has 77 graves, with the last person buried there in 1872. The owner originally paid $105,000 in 2010 and planned on building two houses on the property, but after it was landmarked in 2012 she was not able to.

After a successful bid to get the cemetery landmarked, Avella and Friends of Brinckerhoff said they approached the Parks Department about buying the land, but the city agency refused. In 2015, after efforts from Avella and the preservation group, Borough President Katz allocated $180,000 to buy the land back from owner Le Dan Cai of Linda’s Cai Trading.

Despite everything being in order, the owner pulled out at the last minute. Avella claims it was because the city reversed its initial decision and interfered by offering $400,000 for the land.

Avella said the city’s interference was disrespectful to Friends of Brinckerhoff, a nonprofit, which worked hard to negotiate the fair price of $180,000.

“I think the owner got wind of city wanting to obtain the property,” he said. “Instead of selling it at 70 percent profit — remember they only paid $105,000 for the land — they’re going to get a huge windfall from the city of New York. This was the opposite of what we were told would happen. In my opinion the city helped destroy negotiations. Three years later we’re still trying to get this done.”

Avella said ultimately he just wants the property to be handled as quickly as possible. The land is not currently maintained, with overgrown plants and garbage. Neighbors call it an eyesore and just want it to be taken care of.

“We need to have this piece of property obtained by either the city or the non-profit so it can be turned into the great landmark that it is,” Avella said. “I find it unconscionable that the city would wind up paying the property owner, who obviously neglected this property for years, a huge windfall of maybe 300 to 400 percent. That should not be allowed, that’s taxpayer dollars, so we need to resolve this.”

Avella said he believes because the city is planning on buying it, City Hall is avoiding issuing violations. He said the property owner has to be maintain the property just like every property owner in the city

“They’re just looking the other way.” he said.

Avella said the city has just delayed progress with its interference and forced neighbors to live with an unkempt lot with no end in sight.

“Shame on anybody who interfered with the process and stopped the community ftom purchasing this property at a reasonable rate as opposed to years down the line,” he said. “All of this could have been done by now.”

In a statement the city said it was in the process of finalizing an application from The Uniform Land Use Review Procedure to purchase the property.

“We have received funding allocations from Council Member Lancman and the borough president towards the acquisition of the Brinckerhoff Cemetery Site,” the statement said. “Parks is currently finalizing the ULURP application to formally file it with the Department of City Planning to commence the ULURP public review process and obtain approval for the city to negotiate the purchase of the property.”

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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Reader feedback

Tom Alciere from Nashua says:
The government interfered by essentially stealing the land when they got it landmarked. If it's a cemetery, then register that fact on the deed BEFORE somebody buys te land. Otherwise, it's the buyer's right to build on it.
Dec. 8, 2017, 8:23 pm
Bert Charles Brinkerhoff from Syracuse Ny says:
Joris Dircksen Brinckerhoff is Buried here ,along with his related family's. The Brinckerhoffs are a huge part of how this country was built,with a family History of representing God and his strengths. Joris Dircksen Brinkerhoff came here on a contract in the mid 1600s. If you bare the Brinckerhoff name you are a direct link to Joris Dirckson Brinckerhoff. He is your ancestor that started the Brinckerhoff colony. Joris built the First Old Church in Brookyn N.Y .The Brinckerhoff name stands for (Constant Faith and Integrity). The c was added here in America. I Believe this land / cemetery Should be preserved in the Brinkerhoff Name and City take care of the upkeep because it owes the respect to Joris Dircksen Brinckerhoff. Or at least let a Brinkerhoff purchase the land to keep this land sacred. His DNA is a huge part of this country. John Brinkerhoff mentored George Washington. And the list goes on and on with shaping the family's in this country. If anyone else is reading this that cares about our history in this country ,please say a prayer so that this land is not forgotten but land marked for Joris Dircksen Brinckerhoff.
Jan. 23, 9:02 am

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