It doesn’t exactly exude the same drama being experienced at the U.S. and Mexico border, but two Throggs Neck properties are having a dispute over a wall.
A chain link fence atop a 3-foot cinder block wall separates 1049 and 1053 Huntington Avenue; and had not been an issue between the neighbors until a bad storm caused it to tumble onto 1049 Huntington Avenue on Wednesday, April 16.
At 1049 resides 95-year-old Josefa Abreu, who’s called Huntington Avenue her home since 1969. Her neighbor’s property at 1053 is a rental, with absentee landlords that live in Brooklyn.
In the time since the storm damage, the neighbors have been clashing over whose responsibility it is to foot the bill for to clean up the debris and make the necessary repairs to the fence and cinderblock wall.
Josepha’s daughter and trustee to the property, Leticia Abreu has been handling the ongoing debacle for her elderly mother.
She admits that the wall was first erected when her parents moved to Throggs Neck in 1969.
However, since that time Leticia says that the various owners of 1053 have modified the wall.
Thus, she and her mother don’t believe its their responsiblity to cover the costly repairs.
“I have dated photos of the original wall, it’s hardly even a wall, just a little cinderblock line that we installed,” Leticia said.
At that time, 1053 Huntington Avenue was still an undeveloped lot. Leticia says it was when the house was built that the cinderblock wall was modified and raised to meet the new property’s higher grade.
When the NYC Department of Buildings got involved this summer, they inspected the collapsed wall two times, when an inspector found the wall to be “not maintained in a code-compliant manner and issued violations.” Those violations were issued to Leticia and her mother.
While DOB “does not comment on disputes or litigation between property owners,” the agency’s summons included a $1,250 fine to a nonagenarian who never laid a finger on the modified property divider, according to Leticia.
Evan Chen along with two colleagues purchased 1053 Huntington Avenue in December of 2017. He explained to the Bronx Times that he is unfamiliar with the wall’s history of changes.
“When we purchased the property there was no mention of a modification to the wall,” Chen said. “We were told the wall isn’t part of the property,” he added.
Meanwhile, Leticia continues to fight the DOB’s fine tooth and nail while trying to obtain accurate answers on the issues.
“We can’t get a straight answer on this. Some architects and contractors say that it belongs to (1053 Huntington Avenue) and others say that it belongs to us,” Leticia said. “Yet, I was never given any valid proof that it’s our wall,” she added.
Leticia has reached out to Councilman Mark Gjonaj regarding the wall while she awaits the results of a DOB hearing held on Friday, November 2.
While Gjonaj’s office continues an investigation into the wall dispute, Letica and Josefa Abreu seek pro bono legal assistance with the matter.