A group of Pelham Parkway residents have rallied behind the owner of a rundown stable in Pelham Parkway in an attempt to save what they feel is part of their community’s history.
But it could all be for naught after Friday, May 17 when a tax lien on the property is publicly auctioned off.
Recently, a team of 10 to 20 people have been tending to the grounds of the stable at 1680 Pelham Parkway south every weekend, alongside current owner Buster Marengo,owner of “Rusty”, who’s become a poster steed for conditions there, though “Rusty” now turns out to be Bronco.
But the group’s attempts maybe too late with the auction at the Bronx County Courthouse of one of the five tax liens totalling $20,000, owed to the city for several years by current owner MOL Realty Co.
Buyers are required to hand over a 10% deposit at the auction, though MOL Realty Co. was offered the chance to retain ownership if it paid the tax lien in full at the auction.
Allerton resident Gene DeFrancis, said the goal of the group trying to save the stable is to raise $80,000 – enough to pay off city taxes, water bills and penalties.
DeFrancis said he has also discussed the possibility of setting up a farmer’s market, pony rides, a theater and an equestrian museum on the grounds with Marengo.
The stables drew major media attention in September, 2012 when elected officials and animal rights groups rallied to get “Rusty” — actually named Bronco—out of the condemned stable and moved to a better home.
The ASPCA on a visit to the stable found the horses in good health.
Senator Jeff Klein, who led the charge to remove Bronco from the stable, said he would like to see the stable put to good use in the community.
“A farmers market, or a new and safe stable, both sound like great ideas,” Klein said. “Families in the community might really like those ideas too.”
Egidio Sementelli, a neighborhood activist and supporter of the stable, said the group is trying to get the bridle paths along the parkway back in operation.
“The bridle paths that used to run alongside the parkway gave Mr. Marengo a way to earn a living,” Sementelli said. “Without those, obviously the stable cannot stay in business. The horses need a path to walk on. People can’t rent horses with no where to ride them. They took away his ability to earn a living.”
Sementelli said he has spoken to NYC Parks Department on more than one occasion but has not been able to get a clear answer as to why the bridle paths were taken away. Financial problems halted plans to build a seven-story, 91-unit affordable housing complex called Pelham Parkway Towers near the stable, according to local officials.
The builder, MJM Construction Services, LLC, has since disconnected their phone.
The property was a thriving horse academy in the 1980’s, dubbed Cy’s Pelham Parkway Riding Academy. It was owned by Peter Ciaffa, who since passed away.
Ownership was then transferred to Marengo, who bought the stable in 1996.
As of last week, four horses remained on the property. Unless Marengo pays the back taxes, it is likely the horses on the property will have to be moved.
Marengo has refused to talk to the Bronx Times Reporter.
Reporter Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3394