No ‘can’ do! Slopers worried about container-covered roof

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

A rooftop collection of tin cans and buckets above a run-down Park Slope home is a hazard to passersby on the ground, worried neighbors claim.

The landmarked First Street rowhouse has been a trash-ridden eyesore for years, but only recently did neighbors get wind of the peculiar open-air stash after cans and other debris blew into their backyards.

“This is dangerous,” said next-door neighbor Rosemary Spano, who recently found her backyard and patio between Seventh and Eighth avenues littered with canisters. “I’m concerned that I’ll be walking by or my children will be walking by and we’ll get hit on the head.”

A reporter for this newspaper got access to a neighboring roof and saw a cluttered expanse completely covered with more than 100 large, rusted cans, empty planters, pails, crates, a laundry basket, a pet carrier, and other loose scraps, and a skylight with a missing a windowpane.

Neighbors say the owner of the more-than-century-old building — who did not respond to multiple attempted door-knockings — uses a long string and a bag dangling between the roof and the trash-strewn stoop as a crude pulley system to haul cans upward.

But it’s cans coming down that neighbors are worried about — especially with students from PS 321 running up and down the street each day.

“This is school block,” said Marla Kessler, who lives across the street. “Every kid walks up this block and anything that would potentially hurt someone is worrisome.”

Residents not only fear for their safety, but also the safety of the resident who has rightfully owned the vine-covered building since 1992, according to the Department of Finance.

“I have no idea what she uses (the cans) for,” said Spano, who worries the cluttered roof could make it hard for firefighters in the event of a blaze, and fears for the resident’s well-being. “If we understood why she has the cans up there then maybe that problem could be addressed.”

The resident, who lives in the building alone according to neighbors, has an open case with Adult Protective Services, which is a “state-mandated case management program that arranges for services and support for physically and/or mentally impaired adults who are at risk or harm.”

The dweller’s caseworker could not be reached for comment as of press time.

The house has no building violations, according to the Department of Buildings website, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has not received any complaints about the residence, said an agency spokeswoman.

The house, in its current condition, is something even the Landmark’s Preservation Commission has no control over.

“Improving the condition of the building wouldn’t fall under our jurisdiction because it doesn’t appear to be in danger of falling down or appear to be structurally damaged in any way,” said Landmarks spokeswoman Lisi De Bourbon. “We would only get involved when the structural integrity and architectural integrity is comprised or potentially threatened by neglect.”

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at
Updated 10:10 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Miles Sparrow from Park Slope says:
Clearly a mess.

I only wonder what sort of filthy slob lives there. A truly foul individual.
April 23, 2013, 3:57 am
diehipster from Still-Normal South Brooklyn says:
I can tell you one thing. If it were known that the owner of this home was a some scraggly, bearded, transplanted urban effeminate lumberjack who was using these cans for 'art' or some zany recycling program - this article would have been written wayyyyyyyyyyyy differently. He wouldve been applauded for being such a great "community member" helping the "naaaaabe" be more "vibrant".
April 23, 2013, 7:35 am
Jim from PS says:
It resembles an Ester Nash property
April 23, 2013, 8:28 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Don't touch it - it's ART!
April 23, 2013, 10:06 am
Charles from PS says:
Before more people begin to disparage the homeowner, they should know that an open APS case means the homeowner of the subject building has been deemed by a city agency (DSS) as an adult at risk. This case seems to be somewhere in the self-neglect or lack of capacity to take care of oneself. Instead of reacting without compassion or understanding, people should first realize that many adults, especially older adults or people with disabilities, need assistance. Their actions are not always intended to harm or annoy. And no, you cannot create a nuisance regardless of your mental or physical health issues.
April 23, 2013, 1:36 pm
reader from park slope says:
Do you folks at the Brooklyn Paper not know how to spell PAIL? Check the photo caption. I know, this issue pales by comparison to more newsworthy issues, but it irritates me when supposed journalists are incapable of spelling common terms correctly.
April 24, 2013, 4:42 pm
Claire from Cobble Hill says:
Yeay! Brooklyn like it used to be :)
April 29, 2013, 4:32 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Clearly a hazard to any potential fire department activity in the area. It should be cleaned up by the city immediately.
April 29, 2013, 11 am
reader from ex-brooklyn res says:
I would think the open containers and standing water would also be a breeding ground for mosquitos and West Nile Virus.
Aug. 6, 2013, 12:49 pm
ex- park sloper from Former Park Slope resident says:
Though this doens' give a specific address I am fairly certain that this is someone I know from my over 40 years as a Slope resident. She was an wonderful artist and a very nice person but always eccentric and had a severe hoarding problem. She, for many years, rescued cats and had a house full of them and that is not mentioned here. Maybe they were removed when she was put under protective services? Please understand that hoarding is a mental problem that is very difficult to overcome and usually gets worse as someone gets older, especially if living alone.
I consider myself a "recovering hoarder" as it is very much like being an alchoholic, one has to really want to get better, which is harder to do when one has depression or other mental problems, and be constantly vigilant about sliding back into it.
So, though I agree that this is a health and safety issue for both the resident and her neighbors I feel much sympathy towards this woman's plight.
Aug. 6, 2013, 1:55 pm
alfonce from gowanus says:
the DOB is a joke, what have they done for the Esther & Dorothy Nash property on 7th, NOTHING.

What makes anyone think the DOB will do something for this retard?

Meanwhile all the neighbors have to worry everytime they and their children walk outside.
Unacceptable, If I was the neighboring building, I would go up to my roof, and sweep all her cans and crap off her roof and into her yard.
this is unacceptable....or have a garbage men come and collect it and rid of it, and though on her.
Aug. 6, 2013, 8:16 pm
mj from park slope says:
She has lived there on first since the early 60s. She clearly has 'issues' and i dont mean being a neo slopist knowitall. This woman has serious mental health issues. She needs help and at the same time not be allowed to hurt anyone.
Aug. 7, 2013, 10:41 am

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: