Hold your horses!
A judge has delayed the sale of a rundown Pelham Parkway stable after it’s reclusive owner filed papers rebutting the city’s claim he owes $20,000 in back taxes.
Buster Marengo, the owner of the stables, claims he’s not liable for the property taxes, water and sewer bills that have piled up over the course of a few years.
The late afternoon judge’s ruling came Nov. 4 during an early afternoon auction on the stables where five horses, including Marengo’s horse Bronco, reside. Marengo argued that the bills were incurred by another owner prior to him taking ownership of the stables found at the very end of Pelham Parkway South’s service road near Stillwell Avenue. Third-party mediator Edmond Pryor sold the property to highest bidder Acqua LLC for $451,000 at the auction at Bronx County Courthouse early, though the entity cannot take the horses.
Those still belong to Marengo and another associate, John Warren, who owns four of the horses – Peaches, Pumpkin, Titi and Louise. Animal rights groups have consistently offered to serve as custodian of the horses should the property go to a new owner, though Marengo hasn’t budged.
Current New Owner
New deed holder Louis Zazzarino told the Times Reporter he intends to turn the property into a six-story apartment building with a max of 24 units, should the judge dismiss Marengo’s claims.
“The stable needs to be torn down,” said Zazzarino. “My intent is to build a new building there.”
Zazzarino is an expert at buying up foreclosed properties and later revamping them. Should the judge grant ownership back to Marengo, Zazzarino will have no problem giving up the property.
“I am a real estate investor, I’m not a horse guy,” said Zazzarino. “I’m just a guy who buys property and improves it and sells it for profit.”
The latest chapter is yet another twist in the stable saga, which was ramped up last year after new allegations that Bronco was continually mistreated. Indeed, Marengo had been under scrutiny by the ASPCA for abusing Bronco, issuing several citations that stretch back since 2002.
One of those infractions included keeping Bronco in a stable with mounds of manure. A 2012 inspection found the horse was in good shape.
Still, animal lovers pressured the city Dept. of Buildings to issue a vacate order on the stable. The wooden barnhouse with a single window is now deemed condemned.
Sen. Jeff Klein also stepped into the fray, introducing legislation that would ensure animals are kept out of an unsafe building.
In spite of Marengo’s opponents, several folks have stayed with him since day one, including Egidio Sementeli, arguing the city systematically siphoned the lifeblood of Marengo’s business by removing the bridle paths normally used by horse riders. The paths were removed by the Parks Dept. on the recommendation of Community Board 11 in the mid-2000s.
Speculation ran rampant last year of an aggressive push to remove the stables in favor of an apartment building complex that is now defunct.
Marengo, the city and Zazzarino will be back in court Nov. 13. Until then, Zazzarino is the new owner, though he admits he’ll have to hold off on any projects until the legal matter’s resolved.
“We’ll see in a month,” he said.