Gaetano Romano at the property next door to his Farmingdale...

Gaetano Romano at the property next door to his Farmingdale home; the Town of Oyster Bay recently demolished the unmaintained house there. (July 9, 2012) Credit: Judy Cartwright

Score one for a Farmingdale neighborhood that has been pleading with the Town of Oyster Bay to do something about a longtime neighborhood eyesore. The house on Henry Street, featured in this space April 29, is gone.

The next-door neighbor, Gaetano Romano, called Watchdog recently to report that the town had torn down the house. Work crews were on site for three days last month, Romano said, demolishing the structure, digging out the foundation, hauling away debris, then filling the site with truckloads of soil and leveling the property.

In the spring, when Watchdog inquired about the vacant property, the town said it was awaiting a report from a town engineer's re-inspection; that the house had been unoccupied for some time and was in foreclosure, and though the engineer's first inspection had found significant deterioration, including a large hole in the roof, the report didn't deem the property dangerous. The town had issued notices of violation to the bank and the owner, who was living in a senior citizen facility, after which the bank arranged for the site to be cleaned up and secured, including placement of a bright blue tarp over the roof.

Even with the cleanup, the house hardly qualified as a good neighbor.

The engineer's second report said the house "was dangerous and should come down," town spokeswoman Phyllis Barry said, "and the commissioner of planning and development ordered that it be taken down." The bank and owner were notified, she said.

The cost of the demolition and cleanup will be added to the property's tax bill, Barry said, and will wind up being paid by the buyer when the property is sold.




Holbrook left-turn arrow delayed


It's been almost year since we wrote about a left-turn arrow scheduled for a busy intersection in Holbrook. It was due to be installed in the fall.

Fall came and went, along with winter and spring, but the new signal didn't arrive. It still hasn't.

Why? Here's what the state Department of Transportation told Watchdog:

"Several factors" led to the delay, said department spokeswoman Eileen Peters: For starters, the existing traffic signal structure could not support the weight of the left-turn signal, so the structure had to be redesigned and rebuilt.

"If all goes well, the new signal should be installed and operating this summer," she said in a statement. The department is awaiting delivery of new poles, she said; the foundation for the new signal and underground work have been completed.

The left-turn arrow is for northbound drivers on Lincoln Avenue attempting to turn west onto Route 454.

The department did not give the intersection the highest priority because its accident history did not reveal an immediate safety concern, she said.

"The arrow is being installed to alleviate delays," Peters said. "Since the DOT dedicates its limited resources to addressing safety issues first, other locations and projects along the DOT's 3,300 miles of roads were given a higher priority."

The DOT said last year that an earlier study supported the need for a left-turn signal. Carole DaCosta, who manages a mobile home park south of the intersection, had contacted Watchdog about the need, citing the volume of oncoming traffic that prevents northbound drivers from making the turn.




Cleanup at Massapequa sump


The sump behind William Appel's house in Massapequa has been transformed into a welcome sight.

Last week Watchdog featured the efforts by Appel and his neighbors to get Nassau County to clean up the sump. Until two years ago the perimeter had been getting annual cleanups, he said. But with no maintenance since then, plants had extended over backyard fences and residents feared that, if the growth was not contained, roots would intrude under fences and into their yards.

By Tuesday, the county Department of Public Works had cleared the perimeter and hauled debris from the basin, which was then dredged.

"They graded the whole bottom," Appel said. "From here to the other side [next to Sunrise Mall] all I can see is dirt. They cleaned everything."

The sump had gotten such a thorough work-up only once before in the 29 years he's lived there, Appel said.

Nassau Public Works spokesman Michael Martino has said the department responds to reports of sump issues "as possible" and asked residents to call the department at 516-571-9600 to report the location of a sump that needs maintenance.