Tag Archives: abandoned lot

Bank cleared to clean lot


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A major bank has been granted legal permission to clean and maintain an abandoned six-acre lot in Whitestone, which neighbors say has become a hotbed for wild animals and overgrown weeds.

The undeveloped 150-33 6th Avenue site has been neglected for more than a year, according to the site’s next door neighbor, Artie McCrossen. It is currently in the midst of a foreclosure action by OneWest Bank.

Four-foot high weeds, wild raccoons, possums and mosquitos started to call the unkempt yard home, McCrossen said, after property owner Whitestone Jewels stopped maintaining the land.

OneWest Bank announced two weeks ago it has gained court approval to access and fix the vacant site, according to State Senator Tony Avella.

“This is welcome news for residents of Whitestone,” Avella said. “This vacant property had become an eyesore in the community for far too long and it is a shame that it was allowed to deteriorate like this.”

Still, McCrossen, who is surrounded on three sides by the problematic land, said he will only “believe it when he sees it.”

“People talk and nothing goes on. I haven’t seen anything in two weeks,” he said. “It’s ridiculous. The issue was never resolved. It’s a shame, and it really annoys me that the city isn’t taking any kind of action against the piece of property.”

McCrossen, 59, said he has seen trucks illegally dumping dirt and materials onto the land and has taken it upon himself to repair damage made to the property after superstorm Sandy.

“There’s a garage right next to me, and metal pieces of the roof were flying off. I had to go screw them down so they wouldn’t hit me, my son or my wife when we walk outside,” McCrossen said. “It’s now a safety issue. I don’t think the bank knows.”

The retired firefighter said he even had to shell out $400 when a rogue possum attacked his dog in his backyard at night.

“Every time I let my dog out at night, I’m concerned there are going to be more possums or raccoons. I don’t know what the hell is back there,” he said.

Abandoned Whitestone lot forces curfew on family


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Courier

It’s house arrest come sunset for one family in Whitestone who say they’re being held hostage by a hotbed of mosquitoes and wild animals thriving in an abandoned six-acre lot next door.

“We’re limited to the time we can use our yard — cooking out or going into the pool. Once it starts to get dark — that’s it,” said Artie McCrossen, 59. “The summer’s so short already. It’s a shame.”

McCrossen, a retired firefighter, said the large and undeveloped property — which surrounds his 6th Avenue home on three sides — has been neglected for more than a year. The unkempt yard, he said, has been overgrown with weeds as high as four feet and has become an ideal home for swarms of mosquitoes, raccoons and possums.

“Last Monday, I had four raccoons on my front porch,” McCrossen said. “It was only eight o’clock at night.”

And shorter days mean a fleeting summer for his son, 12-year-old Patrick McCrossen, who said he loves swimming in the backyard pool but has to get out when the sun starts to set.

“I’m getting bitten all over. It’s hard,” he said. “It’s not fun [to have to go inside earlier]. It’s boring.”

McCrossen, who has lived in his home near the East River for six decades, said he also battles with poison ivy and other foliage that seeps into his garden through the fence that divides the properties. The lot used to be maintained and the grass cut, but that service came to a halt sometime last year, he said.

Kathy Dawkins, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Sanitation, said the agency cleans around the perimeter “as personnel and equipment are available” but cannot enter the private property.

The removal of weeds and wildlife falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health, which found the site overrun with weeds during a July 31 inspection, an agency spokesperson said. Violations were not issued, but the department sent a warning letter to Whitestone Jewels, which purchased the five connected lots in September 2006 for $23.3 million, city agencies said.

According to Department of Building records, a permit was issued to the same company in October 2007 to build a two-story, one-family home, but that expired in March 2008 and was never renewed. The land may now be in foreclosure, according to a Department of Finance spokesperson, although it has not yet been auctioned and bankruptcy could not be verified.

Whitestone Jewels could not be reached for comment.