How do homeowners know that the city street their house is next to is really city-owned?
Several homeowners who live on Prentiss Avenue outside of Edgewater Park in Throggs Neck say that they are now having issues maneuvering their cars and parking on the street, and are concerned about safety, after Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative built a fence about six and a half feet out into the street because the cooperative actually owns the property.
The fence was erected recently. It is not yet clear if there are, or are not, easements.
“Obviously there’s safety issue because emergency vehicles cannot get through the block,” said affected Prentiss Avenue homeowner Anthony Susi. “We cannot have plows get through now, so the residents on the street are doing all the snow removal.”
According to John Marano, chairman of Community Board 10, city agencies including the Department of Buildings, city Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Protection, and the Fire Department were called in at the request of the board to investigate the unusual – and perhaps unique – dilemma faced by the handful of homeowners on the block.
City agencies investigating determined that Edgewater Park owns the property the fence is built on, said Marano.
“It does look awkward, it does look out of place,” he said, “but based on the way the records look right now, Edgewater has a right to do it.”
The FDNY did issue Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative a notice of violation for allegedly blocking a fire hydrant with their new fence, but the cooperative has agreed to create a gate for the hydrant, said Marano. Keith Freder, the Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative president, confirmed the cooperative has offered to provide access to the hydrant.
“We don’t have a concern,” said Freder of the fence. “We think we are simply exercising what is the right of every property owner in New York City,” adding that they are securing their community.
But the homeowners on Prentiss Avenue, who are not part of the cooperative, said that the fence will cause them a large amount of hardship and jeopardize their safety.
Safety was the largest issue for Carmen Colon, a homeowner on the beleagured block.
“Thank god that there hasn’t been a fire, but I am concerned that god-forbid there is an emergency, they are not going to be get into the block,” said Colon. “If there are parked cars there, neither an ambulance or a firetruck could fit on the space in the street.”
But perhaps what is most troubling for Colon was that when she and other homeowners purchased their homes, they did not believe that they would ever have to face a smaller street with a fence blocking part of it, she said.
“We bought these houses when the fence was not up,” she said. “I think the fence has caused the value of the houses to be reduced.”
She said resident may now have to put in driveways in their yards, something they may not necessarily want to do.
Marano said that the board might try a last ditch effort to find a compromise between the owners cooperative and homeowners on Prentiss Avenue. They also plan to work more with the city.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3393