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Leaning wall springs nabe into action

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An unsightly and unsafe structure at a work site on the corner of Allerton and Lodovick avenues is about to be addressed before someone gets hurt.   

Community Board 11 secured an interagency sweep of the property at 1672 E. Gun Hill Road where a dangerous retaining wall has become a hangout spot for local youth from I.S. 144. 

Representatives from the Buildings, Sanitation, Health and the Housing Preservation Development agencies will descend upon the property this week to assess the situation and issue violations. 

If there’s no response from an owner, the land may be boarded up and fenced in by the city.

“It’s my understanding that this property is causing not only an eyesore for the community, but also a public safety threat,” Councilman Jimmy Vacca said.  “Children from the nearby school are placing themselves in serious danger by walking along an unstable retaining wall, and they’re also creating a nuisance for neighbors by throwing rocks and leaving behind trash.”

Having seen kids throwing stones, neighbors contacted the councilman and local community board worried about their windows and asking that the retaining wall be eliminated to keep kids away from the area.

“There’s no reason any property should wind up causing this much trouble, and we’re asking this group of city agencies to take immediate action,” Vacca offered. 

Community Board 11 district manager John Fratta spoke to I.S. 144 principal Katina Lotakis about the matter. Lotakis assured the district manager that she would check into neighborhood reports and warn her students about the dangers and repercussions of hanging out at the site.

Fratta said the Health Department has already issued a summons for an unsafe, unsecured work site. 

“We’ve been dealing with this for four months,” Fratta said.  “They don’t even have a permit for what they’re doing; no permit on the house at all.”

The last permit issued to the property was on September 10 of 2007 for a building alteration, from a two family residential space to an office.  It was issued to Patrick Allen Architects, at 805 E. 163rd Street.

Allen states that he recently scheduled a meeting with the property owner, Owen Barrett.  “He never showed,” said the architect. Barrett was unavailable for comment. 

The last violation, issued on October 10, 2007, stated the property owner must cease all work except for any necessary to obtain a permit.

The violation required a fee of $2,500. The owner didn’t appear at the November hearing and made no improvements to the property since February 4.

“The people that do this obviously have a total lack of respect for the community,” Fratta said.  “If they are not going to be responsible property owners, we’re not going to allow this to continue.”

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