Amid a clot of tidy lawns and homes on Roderick Road in West Islip, one house is breaking ranks. High grass, overgrown shrubs and tree branches almost completely obscure the sulking house from view. A rusted old truck sits on a wild thicket of greenery -- what in bygone days would have been the front lawn.
Neighbors say they have watched the home deteriorate for years. Since the former occupants stopped living there in recent months, neighbors say, the two-story Cape Cod-style home has become a virtual nest for stray cats, rats and a raccoon.
"It's been a disaster for many, many years," said next-door-neighbor Thomas Pesik, 70, a retired school bus driver. "Anyone that comes here inquires about it. The whole block talks about it. It's an eyesore."
The West Islip neighborhood is set for a reprieve. The run-down, aging white home at 69 Roderick Rd., which was built in 1953, is slated for cleanup as part of an initiative by Islip Town officials to ramp up enforcement of nuisance properties.
In 2011, the town cleaned or boarded up 53 properties deemed a nuisance. So far this year, 74 properties have been slated for cleanup.
Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci says he's made the cleanup of nuisance homes a priority since taking office in January, describing it as an important quality-of-life issue. "The town has taken the affirmative step of boarding up and securing these properties so that they don't present that kind of blighted presence in the community," he said.
Officials say homes become a nuisance for many reasons, including single-family homes doubling as multifamily dwellings and owner neglect, mostly due to foreclosure or the inability of disabled or elderly residents to maintain the property.
Kerry Bessett, an assistant town attorney who oversees the town's nuisance claims, said most complaints are reported by neighbors. Town code enforcement officers and officials from the fire marshal's office follow up on complaints and document conditions.
If a nuisance violation is alleged, town officials send certified letters to everyone on the home's title in an effort to get the property cleaned. If no action occurs, the town remedies the violation, which can range from cutting grass and shrubbery to boarding up windows.
Acting on a tip from a Roderick Road resident, Islip officials issued tickets to the homeowner in January for illegal outdoor storage of an unregistered vehicle and improper maintenance of the property. The property owner did not respond to the tickets and when the property was reinspected in August, conditions were unchanged.
The town slapped a "notice to remove nuisance" letter on the door of the home on Sept. 26, advising the homeowners that they had five days to remedy the problem. That never happened, officials said, so at a hearing last week, the town board voted unanimously to allow town officials to clean the site.
Newsday could not reach the owners for comment.
The town is slated to clean the property soon. The cost of the work will be billed to the property owner's tax bill.