Trashed! Neighbors say vacant lot is a health risk

Trashed! Neighbors say vacant lot is a health risk
Photo by Dan MacLeod

The owner of a vacant lot in Kensington has allowed it to become a trash pile that’s home to vermin, marsupials, and cats — and neighbors say the city won’t do anything to clean up the mess.

Residents living around the lot on Ocean Parkway between Ditmas Avenue and Cortelyou Road say they’ve complained for years about the opossums, feral cats, and other critters that have been plaguing the area — as well as a dead tree that they think is dangerously close to a power line — and all the city does is pass the buck

“We [always] get the same answer: call this other agency or office or precinct,” said Tim Fitzgerald, the owner of a condo on E. Seventh Street, directly behind the property. “It’s a slap in the face.”

But the city has taken some action against the lot’s owner, slapping him with $150,000 in fines dating back to 2008, for not fencing in the area properly, unsafe construction conditions, illegal ads posted on the plywood walls, and failing to comply with past violations.

Still, the Department of Health says there are no health violations at the property — even though it is teeming with trash and there are holes in the plywood fence containing the mess — and residents say that’s impossible.

“How is this not a health hazard? There’s garbage everywhere,” said Michele Israel as she surveyed the a trash pile partially covered with leaves from her third-story condo overlooking the mess.

Neighbors say at one point, the owner had a crew come to clean, but it didn’t do much.

“They just pushed the garbage to the front of the gate,” said Israel.

The property’s owner, Yaakov Waks, did not return our calls for comment, but has said in the past that his cash-strapped company is doing what it can.

“As it is, I’m underwater on the company,” he told the Ditmas Park Blog. “It’s just I can’t handle it. I don’t know what to do. I’m going to clean it up.”

The property was purchased in 2007 for $1.25 million, according to city records, and it is now for sale, listed with Fillmore Real Estate.