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Homeless man's tree house to be torn down

A homeless man's tree house inside a Seaford

A homeless man's tree house inside a Seaford preserve will be torn down, officials said. (July 15, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

A tree house inside a Seaford preserve, apparently inhabited by a homeless man, will come down Friday after county officials received complaints.

The home was built with boards placed between two trees, with a blue tarp over it, inside the Nassau County-owned Tackapausha preserve.

Surrounding the home Thursday were piles of the owner's belongings: unopened cans of tuna, shirts, underwear, running shoes, empty beer cartons, books and a pocket knife. A basketball hoop was attached to a nearby tree.

It's unclear how long the tree house had been up, though a nearby resident said her sons found it while playing in the preserve more than a month ago.

"They kept coming home and saying something about a man in the woods," said Tiffany Elliott, who lives in Massapequa, across the street from the preserve. "And I told them to stay away. But you know, kids being kids, they were daring each other to climb up in it."

Elliott said her two sons finally found the man, who authorities did not identify Thursday. "He just said, 'Get out of here,' " she said.

She posted a photo of the tree house Monday on the Facebook page of County Executive Edward Mangano, who then promised to help. A Mangano spokesman did not return calls for comment Thursday.

A police spokesman, Det. Lt. Kevin Smith, said officers visited the house Tuesday and told the man he had to leave, offering to help him find a homeless shelter. The man promised to leave the following day, Smith said.

That night, the man fell from the house and was injured, officials said. He was taken to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow and discharged that night.

The man wasn't at the house Thursday as a police officer and a public works employee examined the property. He did leave a note: "I will clean up and move but I broke my shoulder and a bone in my back. Please give me 2 more weeks."

Despite the plea, public works department employees planned to bring in wheelbarrows Friday to start carrying out debris. "It's at least a whole day's worth of work," said Ed O'Connor, a department supervisor.

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