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Neighbors demand seal-up

by DANIEL BEEKMAN

Phyllis Marmone disliked the empty house at the corner of Waterbury and Hobart avenues a year ago. But Mamone didn’t complain. Then one of her neighbors saw a rat slither behind the house. Mamone immediately phoned Councilman James Vacca and 311.

“There are mosquitoes and rats,” she said. “The house is disgusting.”

The two-story bungalow, 3032 Waterbury Avenue, was abandoned two years ago when its owner disappeared. No one on the block seems to know exactly where Eleanor Kovalski disappeared to. There are rumors, of course.

“We put up with junkies living there for a whole year,” Mamone said. “She went away and they were still there.”

No one occupies the house now, as far as Mamone can tell. Only the mosquitoes and rats and who knows what else. Vandals have tagged and pulverized the property’s wooden fence. Its lawn has surrendered to weeds five feet tall. Rainwater has collected somewhere, possibly inside Kovalski’s partly disassembled swimming pool.

“I won’t go near the house,” Mamone said. “I have asthma and emphysema. It looks like a forest back there.”

Kovalski has owned the house at least since 1993, when she obtained the deed to 3032 Waterbury Avenue. In 2003, the Department of Buildings cited the house for illegal occupancy and imposed a $400 penalty, still listed as unpaid.

Mamone lodged a DOB complaint on July 16. The house needs to be properly sealed, the complaint reads. Kovalski hasn’t paid property taxes on the house for at least two years. She owes close to $15,000. Vacca recently submitted new complaints to the Department of Health for rodents and water accumulation. The councilman is waiting to hear back from DOB; he asked the agency to inspect 3032 Waterbury Avenue in July.

It isn’t easy to beautify an abandoned house without an owner’s cooperation. Where there are hazards, the city is obliged to remedy them. But there is no law against ugliness. In similar cases, Vacca has asked the Department of Sanitation to maintain a property – mow its lawn every few months, for example. Eventually, if Kovalski continues to miss property tax payments, the city will issue a lien.

Mamone and others on the block are fed up with the house.

“It diminishes the neighborhood,” Mamone said.

Hobart Avenue resident and Waterbury LaSalle Community Association president Tony Cannata said, “The house is a mess.”

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