Abandoned Staten Island House a Blight for Nearly 20 Years, Neighbors Say

By Nicholas Rizzi on February 20, 2013 9:07am 

TOMPKINSVILLE — The thin, semi-circle block of Nixon Avenue in Tompkinsville is grand, lined by picturesque, desirable homes that are a realtor's dream.

All except one.

Standing in the middle of the block, number 11 has been abandoned for nearly 19 years, slowly decomposing and becoming the bane of neighbors' lives.

The roof has fallen in. The windows are smashed and boarded up. Leaves and tree branches litter the front yard and the sidewalk is nearly impassable due to dirt and debris.

"It looks like a bomb went off inside," said Helen Bolton, who's lived on the block for nearly 40 years.

“That house really is a blight on the neighborhood."

The home used to be a beautiful part of the block, Bolton said. But since the owner moved out, its condition has steadily deteriorated.

Bolton and her neighbors have fought for years to get something done. They've reached out to the owner, and to nearly every elected official and city agency they could think of.

But the building still stands decrepit.

“There’s got to be something that can be done about it,” she said. “It just burns me up that nobody can do anything about it.”

Bolton said that the house has become a dumping ground for trash. People urinate in the yard, it gets broken into constantly and squatters have lived there.

“It’s a hazard,” Bolton said. “There have been squatters there, everything has been there.”

Marie Smith, who has lived across the street from 11 Nixon Ave. for nearly 23 years, said she has to see the wrecked home every day, and worries about who could be inside.

“It’s horrible to see everyday,” she said. “You don’t know who’s hiding in there.”

The house currently has 13 open complaints with the Department of Buildings — mostly relating to it being abandoned and uncared for. They date back to 2000, records show.

In October, the Buildings Department fined the owner, Michael Flynn, $10,000 for failure to maintain the house and sidewalk. That violation is still open, according to DOB records.

The Buildings Department did not respond to requests for comments on this story.

Flynn could not be reached for a comment on this story, and residents said that he has been unresponsive to their calls and letters about fixing up his home.

Aside from ruining her view,  Smith said she was accidentally charged $10,000, when clean-up and fines for the home were mistakenly put on her tax bill in 2009.

After a year of fighting with the city, Smith finally got the problem corrected, but has given up hope of the house ever getting repaired.

“I’m just tired of the whole thing,” she said. “I don’t have much hope of them ever doing anything.”

She said the property has had plenty of interest from potential buyers, who used to constantly knock on her door to ask if it was for sale.

“I got tired of talking to people,” she said.

“They should sell it and get rid of it.”

Other residents worry that the house drives down their property values, Bolton said.

For her part, Bolton said she plans to continue to keep fighting to get the house fixed up.

“I don't know anybody who could leave such a mess like that,” she said.

“Why isn't there somebody who can do something about it?”

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