After a six-month nightmare, Flushing residents are celebrating the clearing of a residential lot that was being used as a dumping site for a landscaping company.
The 40-24 149th St. lot was taken over on Oct. 12 by Fresh Meadows-based Arnoldo’s Tree Service, according to neighbor Daniel Hollingworth. The residential lot is owned by Frank Camisi, owner of Whitestone-based Camisi Construction LLC, and was being loaned out to Arnoldo’s to store their trucks, neighbors said.
The lot had been shared by neighbors since 1983, according to Hollingworth. Since he was a child, the neighbors had separated the lot into sections with small gates and used it to garden, make a place for their kids to play basketball and set up playgrounds with swings. He said no one had problems with the arrangement, but on that October day he saw trucks come in and that’s when the ordeal began for neighbors.
Hollingworth said Frank Camisi told him personally that everything had to go and almost immediately cleared out the lot, barely giving neighbors time to collect their property.
The neighbors’ gardens were destroyed in the process, with gravel being poured on the groundand a bulldozer flattening the lot.
Arnoldo’s trucks then almost immediately set up shop in the lot, disturbing whatever peace existed in the normally quiet Flushing community.
Hollingworth said Arnoldo’s Tree service moved all their equipment into the lot and would begin making noise from 6 a.m. all the way to 6 p.m., disrupting neighbors’ sleep schedules. He said that everyday the trucks came in with chopped wood, causing the block to smell of chemicals and also claimed the Arnoldo’s crew would hang out drinking beer, becoming rowdy on some nights.
Frank Camisi could not be reached for comment. Arnoldo’s Tree Service did not respond before presstime.
Not knowing who to turn to, Hollingworth and other neighbors made noise complaints to 311 for months with no results. On Feb. 8 at 7:27 a.m. a complaint was filed that read “Trucks and workers making a lot of noise at 6:30 a.m. people who live on this block are getting pissed off. People are already getting into each other’s faces over the noise since October 2017. These trucks are not supposed to be there. It’s illegal.”
By 9:50 a.m. the complaint was closed.
“The Police Department responded to the complaint and with the information available observed no evidence of the violation at the time.”311 responded.
From December 2017 to March 2018 there were several complaints made to the city Department of Buildings regarding illegal commercial vehicle storage.
Hollingworth said he and neighbors, who are mostly elderly, did not know who to turn to. He said they felt hopeless when 311 was not taking action. Hollingworth contacted Times Ledger on March 14 where he was directed to DOB and City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) for further assistance. Two days later on March 16 DOB inspected the lot and issued violations for illegal commercial use of the property in a residential area. The violations had a cure date of April 25 or a date by which the property owner was compelled to correct the violating conditions. DOB’s padlock unit also sent a warning letter to the property owner April 17 directing him to cease illegal use of the lot.
Neighbors speculate that Frank Camisi loaned the lot to Arnoldo and told him if he cleaned the lot out for him, he would be able to park his trucks there for free or at a low rate.
On April 22 neighbors said the the truckers were gone from the lot, but debris remained that reminded them of their misery.
“We’re happy, yes, but not 100 percent because of the way they left it,” Hollingworth said. “It stinks. If you would take a look at it, there are holes all over the place with cement blocks everywhere and left-behind wood. The dirt is all messed up and I noticed there is this white crustation, I don’t know if that’s because of chemicals that were spilled.”
Hollingworth said he is relieved Arnoldo’s trucks have left, but he is nervous something like this could happen again and said the damage is done.
“Frank might do this again in the future,” he said. “He got away with it for so long before anything happened, more than six months. The lot is also very unsafe, it’s not boarded up, you can still go in there and it’s all out in the open. All they left was an orange mesh “fence” you can easily flip up.
“I already saw a homeless guy go in there. That’s the problem because it’s open to everyone’s backyard next to our garages.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart