Property Has Weeds, Poison Ivy; Neighbors Want Someone Held Accountable

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Living under a self-imposed curfew, residents of a Queens neighborhood said Wednesday they’re being chased from their own backyards, especially after dark.

They’ve spent the entire summer living in fear of the dangers next door. Behind a wall in Whitestone is a sprawling piece of abandoned property best described by neighbors as “a nightmare.”

“The mosquitoes here, raccoons, the possums — it’s unbelievable. You gotta watch when you go outside,” Whitestone resident Artie McCrossen told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.

McCrossen’s home on 6th Avenue is surrounded by the six-acre blight, overwhelmed with towering weeds, poison ivy and endless annoyances. He said his family can’t even enjoy their pool.

“We used to go in all the time — 8, 9 o’clock at night. Now we can’t even — 4 o’clock we’re out of the pool because the mosquitoes come out and it’s horrible,” he said.

The Department of Finance said Whitestone Jewels bought the land for $23 million with plans to build a residential subdivision in 2007, but then dumped the project in its infancy. The Department of Finance also said the property may be in foreclosure.

Joe Marino and other residents in the well-manicured neighborhood said the owner stopped maintaining the grounds about a year ago.

“They’ve done nothing yet,” Marino said.

“It certainly drags the value of our homes down,” added Kevin Shields of Community Board 7.

The Health Department said it had an inspector on the location on July 31 and sent a warning letter to Whitestone Jewels to clean the property up. If nothing is done in two weeks, the owner will be issued a summons, officials said.

The property owner was unreachable for comment. Neighbors said someone needs to be held accountable, before what they’re sick and tired of seeing, literally makes them sick.

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