Neighborhood litterbugs have made home in a Williamsbridge vacant lot. The lot at 3569 Willet Avenue, at East 213th Street, has been vacant for the past 14 years, according to NYC Buildings Department records.
The longstanding neighborhood eyesore has become a health matter and has some area residents alarmed.
Ronald Washington and his wife, Catherine, closed on their house just around the corner from the lot in February of 2019 after moving from Canarsie, Brroklyn.
“We picked this neighborhood because it was affordable and we see the Bronx as an up and coming place,” Washington said.
Since the Washington family has moved in, they’ve witnessed individuals dump everything from derelict cars to refrigerators to rotting food onto the lot.
“It’s rat infested, it’s just out of control,” Washington said. “How can you live in the neighborhood and have it look like that?”
Washington has filed several complaints to 311.
The NYC Sanitation Department responded promptly recently and removed the offensive trash.
But Washington said as soon as sanitation leaves people start disposing their garbage in the lot all over again.
According to Washington, the property owner is billed for the clean up, however DOS would not divulge the property owner’s name.
DOS has cleared the property of debris four times in the past year with the most recent cleaning Tuesday, November 19.
The site has also been summonsed for dirty sidewalks, according to DOS.
Because the property is privately owned, multiple steps must be taken before a clean up is done, according to the sanitation agency.
The procedure requires NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to first issue the owner with a notice stating the date the site must be cleaned by or DOS will do the work and backcharge the owner.
Washington said he has taken photos of the site and even tried to enlist the local police precinct on the matter.
“The big word in capital letters is ‘HELP’,” Washington said.
Washington was surprised by his neighbor’s lack of interest in resolving the excessive dumping problem.
“They don’t care anymore because it’s been happening for so long,” Washington said.
According to the DOB, inspectors visited the site on Friday, January 10, 2019 and observed several abandoned cars on the property.
The DOB issued a parking regulation violation.
The violation was issued to the owner of the property and was set to go to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) for a scheduled March 1 hearing, but it was rescheduled by the respondent, and is currently slated to be heard this April, according to the DOB.
The standard penalty for this violation is $1,250, but the maximum penalty is $10,000.
As of last week, the vehicles have not been removed.
Community Board 12 district manager George Torres said the board has not received any complaints from residents about this issue at board meetings.
Through the NYC Finance Department’s webpage, Plaza Homes LLC, represented by Alfred Basal, is listed as the owner.
When the Bronx Times contacted Basal, he declined to comment on the property’s maintenance or its future plans.