Skateboarders and graffiti writers have taken over a dangerous shell of a half-constructed office building that has languished in Kings Park for nearly a decade, alarming officials and residents who are concerned it is a safety hazard.
The two-story steel structure and accompanying "decrepit" construction trailer at 263-265 Indian Head Rd. were deemed unsafe in January by the Smithtown Town Building Department. A building inspection cited an open elevator shaft, lack of fall barriers for an open atrium and balcony platforms, and the dilapidated trailer.
Accompanying photographs show graffiti and skateboard ramps on the building's lower level, and soda and spray paint bottles in the elevator shaft.
Smithtown Town Board members voted 5-0 last month to go on the property to remediate its unsafe conditions after property owner Russell Furia, of Crossroad Realty NY LLC, failed to make necessary improvements.
"It poses a safety risk to the community and is therefore a priority," Assistant Town Attorney Martin Simon said. "It's the first commercial remediation in years."
In February, the town board honored Furia's request for more time to make the property safe. Furia told the board a chain-link fence around the building "disappeared within about 48 hours" because the location is "fairly desolate . . . at night."
He said work stopped on the building more than six years ago due to the economic downturn, as well as pending legal action against the Smithtown Zoning Board of Appeals for failing to extend previous variances.
"We're dedicated to this project," he said. "I'm going to finish this project. OK?"
Supervisor Patrick Vecchio was unconvinced at the February hearing.
"It just seems to me that you've placed blame on the town . . . and you have done nothing in seven years," he said.
At a May 6 public hearing, Simon said the only thing Furia did in the interim was put fencing around the ground level. "The decrepit construction trailer remains, the rebar has not been capped and there's still access to the basement lobby, and local kids . . . have gone down there, even built a skateboard park."
Attempts to reach Furia for further comment were unsuccessful. He was not at an April 29 hearing in Fourth District Court on alleged town building code violations, and it was continued to June 17, town officials said.
Joseph Arico, town building director, said the department asked Furia in April to fence in the lower area of the building because it had open windows and walkways to which teenagers gained access.
"He did a nice job, but the teenagers came in, and they removed one of the fence posts at the lower level and they gained access to the basement again," Arico said.
The access issue worries residents, too.
It "has been in the same condition for well over 10 years," said Pat Fischer, who lives across from the property. "And I do see children, younger children, getting behind that fence, so I just feel that it's a tragedy waiting to happen if nothing is done about it."