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Brookhaven demolishes last of its 'dirty dozen' abandoned homes

A fire-damaged house at 26 Gambon Lane in

A fire-damaged house at 26 Gambon Lane in Coram was torn down on July 7, 2015, by the Town of Brookhaven. Credit: Town of Brookhaven

The last of 12 houses targeted for demolition by Brookhaven Town officials has been torn down.

The single-family house on Gambon Lane in Coram, which had been vacant since a 2009 fire that killed one of its residents, was razed on July 7 because it was structurally unsound, town officials said. Photos released by town officials showed gray plywood boards over windows on the brick ranch home.

The house was among the vacant homes dubbed the "dirty dozen" by town officials during a campaign to demolish blighted houses. Town officials have said Brookhaven has as many as 4,000 abandoned homes.

"The dirty dozen were the most notorious vacant houses in the town, but they were not the only ones that we demolished," Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said in a statement. "We are averaging about one demolition per week and will continue to remove many more of these eyesores."

The town board plans to approve several more demolitions at a meeting Thursday, Romaine said in an interview.

A fire broke out at the Coram house in June 2009 and severely burned homeowner Reza Abedi, 33, who died from his wounds two days later. Abedi still is listed as the property's owner, records show. The cause of the fire was not determined, town spokesman Jack Krieger said Friday.

Abedi's family had fled Iran in the 1980s to start a new life in the United States, said Shawn Nuzzo, president of the Civic Association of Stony Brook and the Setaukets.

Nuzzo, who said he had befriended Abedi when they grew up in Selden, remembered Abedi as a popular student who later bought a home near his parents' house.

"They are more than just houses. These represented the American dreams for these families," Nuzzo said of vacant properties. "There's probably a tragic story behind each and every one of these houses."

Some of the homes torn down by Brookhaven over the past year were so-called zombie properties -- vacant houses that were in foreclosure.

A yearlong investigation by Newsday and News 12 found that Long Island municipalities spent more than $3.2 million last year to clean up, board up or demolish zombie homes.

Long Island leads the state in the number of zombie homes, with almost 4,300 as of last month, according to RealtyTrac, a California firm that compiles real estate data. The investigation found zombie houses have cost Long Island homeowners $295 million in depreciated home values.

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