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Long IslandSuffolk

Rocky Point residents slam abandoned home

The dilapidated and abandoned remains of a house

The dilapidated and abandoned remains of a house at 96 Hillside ave. in Rocky Point. (June 20, 2012) Credit: Daniel Brennan

Hillside Avenue appears to be a prim Rocky Point street, its toy-strewn front lawns reflecting the area's many young families.

But at No. 96, the front wall has collapsed, the roof caved in and a pink sheet of paper labeled "condemned" was taped next to the front door during a recent visit.

The owner is Suffolk County, which took possession of the house last year after the previous owner failed to pay about $20,000 in taxes, county officials say. Neighbors complain that the county is not acting fast enough to demolish the home and clean up the site.

"This is unsafe," said neighbor Jonathan Tiskowitz, who has called the county and county Legis. Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) to complain about the house. "This has been a neglected issue."

He said the house has been abandoned for at least eight years.

County spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said the house is slated for demolition by the end of the summer. "We took it into possession in August, but we give the homeowners six months to put in a claim, especially in this economic climate," she said.

Anker said the delay in demolishing the house poses a danger to the community. "We've got to find a better way," she said. "The whole neighborhood suffers."

The former homeowner, Peggy Neff, could not be reached for comment.

Another neighbor said the dilapidated house attracted vermin. "It's caused problems with raccoons and rodents," said Eli Katsis, who lives across the street.

When Katsis and his family moved in three years ago, his real-estate agent said 96 Hillside Ave. would be knocked down within months, he said. "I've called them [the county] a couple of times. Nothing ever happens," Katsis said.

The neighbors worry children might wander into the building.

"Someone's going to get hurt or killed," Tiskowitz said.

Anker's chief of staff, Bill Shiller, last week said a fence would be installed around the house. On Friday, the Rocky Point Fire Department erected a bamboo fence, Tiskowitz said.

Shiller said progress was being made toward the demolition, which will cost about $5,000 to $7,000. "Letters have gone out to the utilities to disconnect the gas and electric," he said. "It's not the best of circumstances, but we're going to get it knocked it down."

Neighbors said it's past time to take the house down.

"It's horrible. It's disgusting. My kids call it the creepy house," said neighbor Gretchen Portnoy. "It's devaluing the property values and you could really get hurt in there."

Legally, the county has to hold onto the land for three years before it can be auctioned or given to a nonprofit such as Habitat for Humanity or a veterans group.