Eyesore property is target of civic North East Flushing group works with Sen. Avella to remove blight

Tony Avella

January 03, 2012

Thursday, December 29, 2011 

by Liz Rhoades, Managing Editor 

An abandoned Flushing property has everything in it including the kitchen sink, and one civic association is fed up.

Members of the North East Flushing Civic Association brought state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) to the location at 24-19 Francis Lewis Blvd. last week. On the property are scattered garbage, the sink, pieces of wood and other refuse.

“This lot has been a thorn in the side of the community for over a decade,” Avella said. “The owner has not made any attempt to clear out or maintain the lot and it has become a constant target of graffiti vandals and litter.”

With him were Peter Brancazio, civic president, and Bambi Schimmel, a board member. Brancazio pointed out that the plot also has graffiti on its fence and a dump truck in the yard.

A portion of the fence collapsed recently, making the litter-filled property even more visible to the community.

Avella said the property owner stopped paying taxes on the site in 2009. The city Department of Finance has put a tax lien on the lot due to $15,809 in unpaid taxes and Department of Sanitation violations.

The lien was sent to the tax lien trust earlier this year, but Avella said the city has not followed through on seizing the site.

Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) whose office is nearby, is aware of the situation and said the lot’s owner is waiting for better economic times to develop the plot and that it is too time consuming and expensive for the city to foreclose on the property.

“The owner should get summonses, but if he’s not paying his taxes, he probably won’t pay the fines either,” Halloran said in a recent interview.

Brancazio believes the owner, who could not be reached by either the Chronicle or Avella’s office, should not be allowed to ignore the assessments.

To combat the problem and similar ones in his district, Avella has formed a task force of area civic groups to identify offending sites. In addition, he is working on legislation that would amend and strengthen the city’s ability to seize abandoned sites when the owner refuses to pay property taxes and has outstanding fines and violations.