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Homeowners in Central Islip enclave reminded of restrictions

Alindo Spence bought his College Woods home in

Alindo Spence bought his College Woods home in Central Islip early this year. Credit: Daniel Goodrich

Homeowners in a Central Islip community that was transformed more than 25 years ago from run-down homes into one of the state’s largest subsidized housing projects are receiving affidavits in an effort to prevent illegal rentals, officials said.

College Woods homeowners are asked to confirm they are abiding by the restrictions on their properties, including a prohibition on rentals, after some residents voiced concern about code violations and a lack of enforcement, officials said.

The Islip Town Community Development Agency — which led the development of College Woods from the former Carleton Park neighborhood — re-sent affidavits Thursday, officials said. Only 148 of 378 sent in June were returned by July 15.

“They don’t want it to go back to the old Carleton Park,” said CDA board chairwoman Debra Cavanagh, who also lives in College Woods. “We want to keep it as an upgraded community.”

With more than 500 units, College Woods comprises a mix of Colonial houses, town houses and ranches off Carleton Avenue and south of Suffolk Avenue. Most of the units are owner-occupied, though some are owned or operated by governmental agencies or nonprofits, officials said. Residents describe it as a quiet, “peaceful” community where neighbors know each other.

It replaced Carleton Park, an area known for gang violence, drug use and absentee landlords in the 1980s and 1990s. Town, state and federal officials spent at least $21 million on the redevelopment as part of an economic revitalization program. 

The original homeowners were selected through an affordable housing lottery and were required to sign affidavits acknowledging deed covenants and restrictions in the early 1990s, officials said. Restrictions range from prohibiting abandoned cars to limiting the amount of time holiday displays can be up. They do not include affordable housing restrictions, such as limits on who can purchase the homes or at what price they can be sold.

CDA Executive Director James Bowers said there has not been a “spike” in complaints, although some residents approached the board with concerns such as rentals, loitering and loud parties  recently.

“We need help,” homeowner Lisa Gonzalez told the board in August of the fear of the neighborhood backsliding with a number of illegally converted rental apartments. “I can’t afford to move.”

The number of code violations reported in College Woods was not available, Islip Town spokeswoman Caroline Smith said.

Affidavits — which were last sent out about five years ago — will help ensure that newer homeowners know the rules, Cavanagh said.

Residents who previously signed affidavits are asked to sign a postcard, not another affidavit, affirming their prior statement, Bowers said.

Affidavits are not unusual in affordable housing projects, said James Britz, executive vice president of the Long Island Housing Partnership.

“It’s so difficult to get these types of developments built,” Britz said. “When you do get something built, you want to make sure everything is followed by the letter of the law.”

Most College Woods residents interviewed Wednesday said they did not receive the June batch of affidavits and did not object to them.

Alindo  Spence, who bought a College Woods home in February, said he was glad to find out about the restrictions Wednesday because he was considering moving and renting his home next year. 

“I can’t go against the town rules. Those fines are no joke,” the 40-year-old store manager said.

Fines for illegal rentals start at between $750 and $2,500, according to town code. 

Dora Salvador, whose mother owns the house they live in, said the affidavits would show officials are “enforcing things.”  

“It makes people feel more secure or better that people are watching out for where they live,” said Salvador, 22.

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