LINDENHURST, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A neighborhood on Long Island is fighting for their property, or at least property they thought was theirs.

Now, the village of Lindenhurst is giving residents an ultimatum — pay up, or give up your back yards.

Complete with white picket fences and wooden sheds, there isn’t anything unusual about the 50 backyards in question along Orchard and Palm Streets.

“For the past ten years, I’ve been cutting the grass keeping it nice,” Lindenhurst resident Elmo Tarasi said.

Running between the homes, however, is a 25-foot wide trail owned by the village.

“I actually went down to the town when I first moved in 2008 and they told me since it was a paper street I could pretty much take it,” Tarasi said.

Now, the village is asking residents to either buy what they already thought was their backyard for around $3,000 per household or tear down whatever was built on it.

“When we first moved here over 20 years ago we didn’t know,” Lindenhurst resident Christine Scali said. “We had trees put in, rocks and a shed.”

Unless you’re looking at an old village map, you can’t actually see Richards Lane. Mayor Michael Lavorata says it used to be a footpath a hundred years ago, before the village just let it disappear.

“Are they gonna take it and make it a real street?” Tarasi wonders.

There aren’t any set plans to make it a footpath again, but as long as the village owns it it would be open to the public. Lavorata says he’s just trying to do his due diligence, and claims to be asking for market value.

“(It) kind of fell through the cracks I guess,” he said. “There could be one or two other places where this could occur, and I want to set a precedence.”

The deadline hasn’t been set yet, so the mayor hopes to finish deals with all 50 homes by the end of the year.


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