NUTLEY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Residents in Nutley are fuming after they say officials paid millions of dollars for a piece of property that’s now a trashed lot.
CBS2’s Lisa Rozner demanded answers Tuesday.
Ciccolini’s was a long-time furniture and appliance store on Franklin Avenue. In 2016, the town purchased the property which includes parking space.
The store closed in 2017, and now it has become a different kind of fixture in the community.
“There’s a lot of beer bottles, liquor bottles, big pieces of furniture like the old TV, and it has just become a dumping ground,” said Nutley resident Janet DePalma.
A dumping ground that the town paid $3.4 million for.
Drone Force 2 captured potholes lining the parking lot, one even creating a small pond.
“I went through three tires on my car, because every time I parked back there, there was always nails and everything else back there,” said Denise Sallette of Nutley.
“If you’re the municipality, I’d be worried someone’s going to hurt themselves,” said Nutley resident Neil Henning.
The town planned to turn the lot into municipal parking for visitors to downtown businesses.
“Nothing’s happened in over two years since they bought it,” Henning said.
What’s not clear is whether the town is earning any money from this property, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported. At one point, officials discussed putting in parking meters.
So Rozner asked the mayor, who is also the Director of the Public Works Department, what is going on here.
“If you guys bought the property in October 2016, right, how come you didn’t go in at that time between now and then?” Rozner asked.
“Because Mr. Ciccolini’s been in there operating,” said Mayor Joseph Scarpelli.
“Even in the parking lot though?” asked Rozner.
“Yes, it was his parking lot, he was using it for business,” Scarpelli said.
Scarpelli claims plans to clean it up got caught in the weeds due to the harsh winter.
“Now that the weather’s broken, we’re going to go in there, clean it up, pave it a little bit, and put up some meters and some lines and make it a municipal parking lot,” Scarpelli said.
“Some people are saying why did you spend all this money if you didn’t know what you were going to do with the property?” Rozner asked.
“Well, it’s not that, you know. We know what we’re going to do with it, we just don’t have the specific plan at this point,” Scarpelli said.
“No realtor that I know would buy a piece of property and not know ahead of time what it’s worth and what they want to do with it,” said Henning.
The mayor says the lot should be cleaned up by summer, and the property may align with plans for a new medical school in town. Authorities also hired a consulting firm to come up with some proposals.