Whitestone eyesore cleaned up

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While the abandoned property located at 24-19 Francis Lewis Boulevard still has a long way to go, the land formerly regarded as an “eyesore” has gotten a little less hard to look at.

After sitting idle for over a decade, the plot, which had become a dumping ground for garbage and out-of-service construction equipment, has finally received some attention as part of an initiative forwarded by Senator Tony Avella and Peter Brancazio of the North East Flushing Civic Association, who hope to convert the derelict property into something of use for the community.

“I am extremely pleased that we were able to work with the city to put enough pressure on the owner to get him to take action,” said Avella.

In January, Avella’s representatives told The Courier that the property’s owner, 2431 Francis Lewis LLC, had failed to pay property taxes since October of 2009, therefore including the property under a list of tax liens — allowing the Department of Finances (DOF) to put the property up for sale. Avella’s representatives alleged that the DOF received a check for $9,772.11 from the property owner on August 3 that later bounced.

Councilmember Daniel Halloran has also remained outspoken about the ongoing project. He alleged that the owner skated fines for inadequate fencing several times in the past by patching parts with plywood when facing a penalty.

“The truck, debris and kitchen sink are gone. However, our work here is not done,” said Avella. “Now we need to focus of getting the fence removed and clearing the weeds and turning that lot into something appealing to the community.”

On February 10, Avella and Brancazio met with representatives from the DOF, Department of Buildings (DOB), Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and Department of Sanitations (DSNY) to discuss the abandoned lot. Since the group met, the FDNY has issued a Notice of Violation for the trash on the site and the DOB has transferred the lot to the Padlock Enforcement Unit. Shortly thereafter, the owner cleared the lot.