And now, everyone that lives near 633 Mead Street in Van Nest is breathing a sigh of relief.
An unsightly lot that had large tree branches extending onto the street was cleaned up during the week of Monday, September 13.
That was over two months after members of the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance first filed a complaint on July 6.
“At first, they didn’t clean it fully,” said Joe Bombace, a member of the VNNA and the complainant who brought this issue to the attention of Senator Jeff Klein. “They cleaned it but left five large piles of weeds,” he said.
At last, a week later, on Monday, September 20, someone came back and cleared away the rest of the debris and garbage. Locals who believed that the Department of Sanitation was to thank were happy to learn that it was in fact the owner himself who either showed up or sent someone.
Senator Klein had sent the owner, who is listed as Dickson Sheh based in Hewlett, New York, a letter requesting that he address the issue.
In the letter, dated August 16, Klein wrote to Sheh: “I would respectfully request that you work with us to bring this property into good condition.”
In addition to cleaning it the one time, Klein said that Sheh has vowed to keep the lot clean in the future, as well. According to residents, that’s the real victory here.
“They made a commitment,” said Bombace, “that they will maintain the space on a regular basis from here forward.”
Bernadette Ferrara, who is vice president of the VNNA and also happens to live next door to the lot, was especially angry about the problem when it existed. She said that to see it cleaned was satisfying.
Klein, too, was pleased that Sheh followed the request in his letter. “The property has significantly improved as to what was there, which was a bit of a jungle,” a member of his staff said.
When the first complaint was made in July, the DOS followed up on August 8 but, as it turned out, they could only clean up what could be accessed from the outside. They cannot enter a property without a warrant, which was the core reason the cleanup took so long.
“They haven’t done much with that lot but for now, as long as they own it, they’ll have to clean it regularly,” warned Bombace, who is known around the neighborhood for being vigilant about such issues.
Klein felt the same way about requiring the owner to continue upkeep of the lot. “Any property which is unkept or falls into disrepair,” he said, “creates an opportunity for vandalism and other unsavory activity and becomes an eyesore in the community. I am pleased we were able to get this lot cleaned up in order to main the character of the community.”
“It looks satisfactory now, so we can rest easy about it,” Bombace noted.
“But to get to the point where we had to approach an elected official to get this place cleaned up, that means the lot can’t be serving its purpose for this company.”