A resident of “the neatest block in Long Island City” is fighting a sanitation ticket, issued, some say, as part of a plot to push low-rise occupants from prime real estate.
Ann Leggett, an artist who has lived on Jackson Avenue since 1979, was issued a $100 ticket for trash surrounding her home at 8:22 a.m. on August 22. When she went outside to retrieve the newspaper at 8:30 a.m., she saw the ticket, adjacent to her immaculate sidewalk.
An employee of Argon Management Corp., the taxi company next door to Leggett’s home, saw his neighbor eyeing the ticket and was puzzled by the violation. The worker had finished sweeping the walkway minutes before the sanitation agent surveyed the property, as someone from Argon does every morning.
“There are many people around here who believe the owners of small buildings are being harassed because the powers that be would really rather have us go away and be replaced by great, towering edifices,” said Leggett. “They want to be rid of us.”
Jackson Avenue, zoned for both low and high-rise buildings, is targeted heavily by developers in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.
Leggett said any mess near her home is created by the taxi drivers and the Sunnyside Railroad Yard across the street from her house. While the taxi drivers sweep up their used coffee cups and bits of paper that spill over into Leggett’s property, swaths of litter accumulate around the MTA-owned plot. There are also three bus stops, a state office building and a subway stop in the immediate vicinity of her home, generating garbage.
Upon contesting the violation, the judge admitted there was a double standard by sanitation, where small properties seem to be targeted and tickets are not issued to MTA-owned properties, state buildings or high-rises where sidewalks are much dirtier. However, the judge allowed the ticket, stating Leggett failed to indicate through photographs that she had in fact cleaned the sidewalk.
“If there is somebody who wants this particular plot of land and is getting the help of the city to harass us out, now that’s corruption,” said Leggett.
George Avdoulos, owner of Argon Management Corp., allegedly wrote a letter on behalf of Leggett to Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, explaining that the ticket was unfounded and Leggett’s sidewalk is constantly clean. He has yet to hear back from the official.
Avdoulos, Leggett and other nearby tenants frequently receive phone calls and letters from realtors and developers, offering money in exchange for them to vacate their properties. Leggett said she often sees people scanning the block holding clipboards and taking measurements. While the letters generally refrain from offering an exact figure, they indicate the ability to get her a “big fat price” for her house.
Leggett believes that by obtaining several contiguous properties, a developer could stand to make a great deal of money.
“It’s a shame about Long Island City. It’s becoming more and more unwelcoming to the people that lived here a long, long time.”
Calls to sanitation were not returned as of press time.