NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — To some it’s been referred to as a zombie house in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx, but the battle is heating up now that some residents are being told they have to help pay for repairs that fall on shared property.
Neighbors have called the property an eyesore, a mosquito haven, and even a drug house for at least ten years on Schley Avenue. Since 2008, the house has had two absentee owners and even went into foreclosure.
The home is currently privately owned by Eric Totoram and now, neighbors say they’re at their wits end.
Margaret Alverez is one of three residents who share a retaining wall with the property and have now received a citation from the city saying they need to repair the wall.
“It was a violation so we have to get it fixed or show we are in progress before the court date,” Alverez tells CBS2’s Emily Smith. “If the water wasn’t there I don’t think it would have happened. The water is always so high.”
Neighbor Shane Rossi was also cited by the city.
“We share a retaining wall,” he said, “and we are maintaining our half. They aren’t maintaining their half.”
One resident even brought out a file of complaints that she’s had about the property in question, something she says has been going on for quite some time.
Over the years, locals have received sympathy from New York State Senator Jeff Klein, who has been trying to get the city or owners to repair the so-called zombie house. Klein says “the neighbors should not be held responsible for inaction, which has enabled the property to languish into a state of complete disrepair.”
A city spokesperson for the Department of Buildings tells CBS2 it’s all up to the current owner because the city can’t legally demolish anything that isn’t structurally unsafe.
“Our investigative engineers have visited the property multiple times in response to complaints from the community — we found that the building is sealed, as required by law, and is not a danger to the public,” the spokesperson said.
Still, neighbors say trespassers climb the fence and remove the boards to get inside. They say the final straw was being cited by the city for the shared retaining wall.
“Yes, it’s good for the city, funds for the city,” neighbor Louis Ragusa said. “It’s not good for me. I am paying taxes, I am not getting my money’s worth. People run out of patience and bad things happen.”
The current owner wouldn’t go on camera, but says there are plans to demolish the home and rebuild. He says each neighbor whose been cited is responsible for their own part of the retaining wall.
CBS2 reports the residents who received citations are due in court May 12. They have to show a plan is underway to repair the retaining wall. In April, the current owned was cited by the Department of Health for standing water. Fines start at $1,000.