Skunks invade abandoned Astor Ave. parcel

A family of skunks has taken up residence in the rotting stumps of trees cut down at the quickly overgrowing lot on Astor Avenue. - Photo by Adam Bermudez

To the dismay of local homeowners, a controversial Pelham Gardens property now has some new residents.


A family of skunks recently moved into the overgrown landlocked property at 1464 Astor Avenue, leaving the site’s owner to remedy the situation.

The rare 100 x 103 foot landlocked property, zoned R4, was to be the base of a large medical facility until the owner encountered zoning issues that prohibited the project.

L.A.L. Astor Avenue Management, headed by Les Lerner, forked over $1 million for the property, paying $600,000 for an adjoining house and $400,000 for the vacant land.  Unfortunately, when the plan fell through, the inquisitive critters moved in.

It was a sunny Thursday afternoon when two-year-old Matthew Franco, first noticed the rotting tree stumps when he was playing near his parents’ and grandparents’ houses.

“There’s skunks,” he excitedly exclaimed, pointing out the animals’ new habitat.  Franco’s parents are now worried for the safety of their little boy, as well as the other neighborhood children.

Vacca called Lerner, asking for immediate action regarding both the wildlife concerns as well as the property maintenance. 

“He was polite, and said he’d get on it, and I’d like to give it a chance,” he said.

Relying on the developer’s good faith agreement, Vacca added,  “I want to give him a chance to exterminate.”

In the meantime, one local resident said she might have seen this promise in action.

Eastchester Road resident Darlys Tirabasso said on Saturday, May 17, two men, who she believed could be exterminators, grazed the property.  While they appeared to be investigating the troubled location, overgrown grass continues to serve as thick camouflage.

Pelham Gardens resident Mike Franco found community leader support to be instrumental in finding answers to local concerns, from the initial purchase of the property and controversy over the proposed construction, to this unexpected wildlife nuisance. 

Franco met Allerton Homeowner and Tenant Association president Sal Castorina along with the councilman at the Monday, May 19, Rally to Save Met Food, down the street from his Eastchester Road home. He said both community leaders assured him they were keeping an eye on the situation. 

If the owner doesn’t clean up the property immediately, Vacca assured he’d take action. 

“If it’s not done by Memorial Day, I’m going to call the city,” Vacca said.  “The city will do it, and we’ll give him the bill.”

Lerner did not return call for comment as of press time. 

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