Rocky Point residents want home teetering off cliff razed

A home on the bluffs on Friendship Beach A home on the bluffs on Friendship Beach in Rocky Point in foreclosure is in danger of collapsing. (April 26, 2013) Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

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With summer approaching, members of a Rocky Point property owners association are demanding that a bank do something about a foreclosed home that is teetering on a cliff and could collapse on beachgoers.

"Some homeowners say they don't want to bring their children to the beach; and it's a reasonable assumption," said Desmond Butler, 72, president of the North Shore Beach Property Owners Association, which owns the beach below the home at 347 Soundview Dr.

Bank of America officials say they plan to demolish the home. "We are aware of the property and, although foreclosure has not been completed and the property is not in our legal control, we have requested a bid for demolition of the property and hope to have it resolved soon," bank officials said in a statement.

The bank did not provide a timeline for the demolition, but Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner, who lives nearby, said bank officials told her last week they plan to tear down the home this month.

Residents aren't willing to wait. The home, while boarded, is vulnerable to trespassers, particularly youngsters, Butler said.

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Butler, a 23-year homeowner in the community, said a series of coastal storms led to major sand erosion from under the home. Most of the back deck has already plunged 400 feet, he said. "Ultimately, more pieces of the house will come down," he said. "The house is a clear eyesore and threat to the community."

Carlos Espinal, who owns the home, could not be found for comment.

Town officials condemned the home on Aug. 8, and in February issued two summonses against Espinal before boarding and securing the residence. Both summonses are related to the home being in danger of collapsing, town officials said.

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"As a resident who lives just down the road, we watched the deterioration of the bluff due to lack of maintenance," Bonner said. "It's truly unfair what's happening in this situation . . . and the lack of action on the behalf of the owner and the bank is holding up the association" from enjoying the beach, she said.

Even though many residents have complained about the home, neither the town officials nor association members have blocked access under the home.

"It's a hazard. [But] you can put up all the signs in the world, it's not going to stop someone from going inside," Butler said, noting that lifeguards have warned beachgoers to avoid the area.

The home has been at risk for at least 10 years and became dangerous and uninhabitable last summer, he said. "If you step off the back of the home, you could fall 400 feet onto the beach," Butler said.

Historically, the home was called the Romano house -- the name of a former family that lived there. When residents built bulkheads along the bluff years ago, the Romano family did not opt in to extend the bluff possibly because it was too costly, residents said.

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