NUTLEY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — CBS2 demanded answers and is now getting answers on a trashed lot in New Jersey worth millions of dollars.
The town of Nutley bought the property a few years ago and it had sat filled with garbage ever since. But when CBS2’s Lisa Rozner exposed the problem, change quickly took place.
As seen from Drone Force 2, the property where Ciccolini’s, a long-time furniture and appliance store on Franklin Avenue, once stood was an eyesore. Last Tuesday, when Rozner saw the lot it was basically a dumping ground, filled with garbage, beer bottles, pieces of furniture and an old television. That was tough to swallow for a lot of local residents, considering Nutley paid $3.4 million to buy the property back in 2016.
“It’s terrible that the town lets it get like this that nobody cares,” Nutley resident Denise Sallette said.
But since CBS2’s Rozner spoke with Mayor Joseph Scarpelli, things have changed. Fliers warned cars in the lot that it would close Saturday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Video shows about a dozen Department of Public Works workers going in with equipment that morning to trim the overgrown trees, pull out the weeds and, after years, throw out the trash.
“Glad they finally took the initiative and went ahead and actually did something,” resident Scott Alexander said.
“Looks a lot better. It’s nice to see,” resident Neil Henning added. “I think CBS shining a light on it actually burned a little fire under ’em.”
“CBS’ exposure is what moved it along and I’m sure of this due to my communications with the parties at the Department of Public Works,” resident Tammy Rossi said.
The mayor previously told CBS2 the cleanup got caught in the weeds due to the harsh winter, and the fact that the furniture store was still operating on the property at one point.
When Rozner first asked, Scarpelli said the cleanup would be done by summer. On Sunday, he told Rozner by phone that the weekend cleanup was preliminary work that was “planned.”
There are still potholes prevalent throughout and the mayor acknowledged that the parking lot needs to be repaved. He said that will happen by June when the town will relocate its farmers’ market here.
“It’s a pretty expensive farmers’ market, but as an interim I guess it’s fine until they figure out a real plan of what they want to do with this property,” Henning said.
Scarpelli said the town is also planning to line parking spaces and install meter so it can be used as a municipal lot.
“It’s a beautiful town and parking is tough. When it comes it’ll be a good thing,” resident Jeanine Caruso said.
“Whatever they can do to make this town work,” resident Scott Zukowski added.
“Ciccolini’s is part of my life, part of Nutley history,” resident Ted DeBlasio said.
And residents hope this is a sign that the millions of dollars they paid for it won’t go to waste.
It’s still unclear what the town plans to do with the existing building.