A Bensonhurst market that the city has tried to shutter since 2008 has turned 18th Avenue into a rotten fish and produce-strewn stretch that rats and vermin flock to all night long, claim outraged neighbors who say the city isn’t doing enough to force the grocer to clean up his act.
The city has hit the owner of the Mondello Fish Market with nearly $20,000 in fines and a vacate order, but residents say the neighborhood merchant has done nothing to improve the deplorable conditions he has created at the corner.
“It’s not fair,” said Claire Bells, who has lived near the corner of Bay Ridge and 18th avenues for more than 30 years. “You look one way and it’s a nice street. You look the other and it looks like a slum. I went to the community board, I went to the Congressman and all the politicians. They all just pass the buck.”
Bells’s neighbors say vendors dropping off produce block the street. When the store closes up at night, workers leave behind uncovered dumpsters full of rotting fish, fruit, and veggies — creating a feast for vermin, critics say.
“I have to pass by there constantly with my grandson, and the smell is terrible,” said resident Sally Benz. “It’d be better if they swept up right.”
The Mondello Fish Market is no stranger to Community Board 11, which has received numerous complaints about the property.
“We’ve sent police around there to address the complaints,” district manager Marnee Elias-Pavia said.
The city says it is doing everything it can to make sure the merchant follows the rules, but the market’s owner — who was not around when this paper paid the store a visit and didn’t respond to repeated calls for comment — has thumbed his nose at the Sanitation Department.
The merchant hasn’t paid a number of outstanding tickets for obstructing the street and sidewalk, having improper trash receptacles, and for failing to clean up his premises, city officials say, claiming that their hands are tied.
The property holder has also refused to comply with a vacate order that’s been hanging over the building since a fire broke out there in 2008 — or pay the more than $6,000 fines he’s racked up for failing to comply with the order, according to Department of Buildings spokeswoman Gloria Chin.
Chin said that more than $12,000 in construction violations have also been levied against the property.