The filthiest backyard in Brooklyn Heights has gotten so bad that at least one neighbor has started cleaning it himself.
Community residents have been griping about a lawn-turned-garbage dump on Henry Street for years, but still haven’t convinced landlords or business owners to take responsibility for it.
The rat-filled sty around the corner from Montague Street is filled with overturned furniture, plastic bottles and bags, a heap of wood forming what looks like a hovel, clay planters and a deflated basketball — and that’s after a Brooklyn Heights businessman tried to tidy up the space.
“It’s third-world disgusting!” said Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association. “Everyone walking by can see it from Henry Street. “It’s a dumping ground.”
Longtime neighbor Andrew Porter said that the slummy shared courtyard turns into a dining room for vermin at night, and that passersby are confusing the yard for a mini-landfill.
“A few days ago there was a sofa there,” Porter said. “I just wish someone would clean it up. I wish the garden would have flowers.”
The junk pile is behind a row of Montague Street businesses, including Andy’s Chinese restaurant, Dashing Diva nail salon, and the Heights Vision Center. All three of the lot’s landlords — including major Coney Island developer Thor Equities, which owns the salon’s building — did not return calls from The Brooklyn Paper.
Neighbors claim that calls to 311 and business managers have been no use. Some residents were so fed up that they even blamed Father James Root at Our Lady Lebanon Cathedral, which is separated from the trashy lot by a brick wall and a driveway.
“Someone asked me, ‘Are you throwing the garbage over?’ Yes, I haul garbage over the wall after service,” Root said sarcastically. “Seriously, we don’t know why it looks like that.”
In the 1980s, the forsaken grounds housed a memorial garden and a fountain in honor of the former landlord’s son, according to Root. Things got messy after the family moved away.
“Now it’s always a pigsty and there’s always rats,” Root said. “It’s been like this for years. People are always throwing garbage at the property.”
But there’s some hope amid the rubbish.
Bobby Cruz — the former owner of the UPS Store down the block — got into the garden and bagged some of the litter last week.
Cruz hopes to open a tapas and wine bar beneath Heights Vision in the spring and wants to turn part of the messy yard into outdoor seating and the rest into a garden.
He claims he has already received permission from Thor Equities to tidy up their section of the yard.
“It was disgusting,” said Cruz, who hauled a Dumpster to the site and cleared out a shed, a baby crib, a few dead trees, and empty beer bottles. “For years, no one has taken care of it. I’m going to finish cleaning the rest so we can finally have a garden.”
Reach Kate Briquelet at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.