Written by Michael Scro Friday, 27 September 2013 00:00
At the East Williston Village Board meeting last week, discussions on the abandoned house at 8 Sumter Avenue continued. The house has been the source of consistent complaints from neighbors, citing infestation of vermin (including raccoons and mice), unkempt shrubbery and loose roofing.
Homeowner John Muzio spoke to the Mineola American, offering his side of the story. According to Muzio, he and his wife have owned the home since 1971. He says residents are “making too much out of this” and “should mind their own business.”
“I never had raccoons in my house,” Muzio said. “I always had them trapped outside.” He acknowledged that the village had set raccoon traps in the house this past January and February, but said no animals were actually trapped.
“Raccoons go where they want to go. I have two neighbors that feed the birds, and seed is all over the place—that attracts raccoons,” he said.
However, Deputy Mayor Bonnie Parente stated at a village board meeting in February that five raccoons had been caught on the property, and the village would continue to trap them. She reconfirmed that last week.
Earlier this month, the village planning board voted 4-1 to deny the application from Mineola-based BNL Construction Corp. to subdivide the plot so that it could build two homes. BNL did not return calls for comment.
Nancy Kirk is one of several Sumter Ave. neighbors who have complained about the dilapidated property but also expressed opposition to the proposed subdivision.
“Her house doesn’t look so good either,” responded Muzio. “She’s moaning and groaning, and no Prince Charming is coming to pick her up at her house.”
Mayor David Tanner said the original bidder to demolish the property, Williston Park-based Colonial Crafters, was not able to maintain its bid, and as a result, the village advertised to receive bids by Sept. 19.
A walk-through of the property was scheduled last Tuesday, Sept. 17, with two bidders who are planning to submit proposals.
East Williston has received two proposals. J Galvin Construction bid for $28,500, but if hazardous materials are found on the site, extra costs may be incurred and Amport Design and Construction bid $61,653.
Village officials did not reveal which bid would be selected. Historically, muncipalities choose the lowest responsible bidder.
Financial issues have also come into play with Muzio’s home. According to village officials, there are 16 liens on the property, totaling $200,000. Parente added that tax liens come first, however there may be other liens ahead that the village hasn’t tacked on yet.
Last year, the Nassau County Supreme Court ruled that the village has the right to either demolish or rebuild the house as the village sees fit.
Mayor Tanner said it is possible that the village will not be compensated back for the cost of the demolishing the home, which is approximately $60,000, according to officials.
“There is nothing that this board has done to drag its feet,” Tanner said. We’re moving forward the best way we can.
Trustee Robert Vella Jr. said the village could seek to get the vacant property appraised after demolition of the home. Tanner said an appraisal is not currently planned.
Former village board trustee John Ferro attended the meeting and hopes Muzio doesn’t have “any more cards to play.”
“Does Muzio have anything else in his back pocket that he could pull out in the eleventh hour? ” Ferro asked. “Even though we get all these bids, we could be here a year from now in this exact same situation.”
Tanner said the village has been very proactive, and noted that even before the planning board made its decision on the subdivision application, the board authorized Village Clerk Marie Hausner to seekbids.
Ferro then asked village attorney Jeffrey Blinkoff if Muzio has exhausted his challenges and objections to the village’s actions, Blinkoff said that was correct, however, he mentioned that he received a call that day about legal actions Muzio still wants to take. He dismissed them as “not holding any traction.”
Muzio claims that he recently tried to obtain a temporary restraining order through the Nassau County Supreme Court to prevent the village from coming onto his property, however, he did not submit an application in time for a judge to sign.
“The court has already made a decision about how the village can proceed,” Blinkoff said, referring to the ruling last year.
Trustee A ‘Woman of Distinction’
The board acknowledged that Trustee Caroline DeBenedittis is being recognized by Nassau County as a Distinguished Woman of the Year. According to New York State Assemblyman Ed Ra’s administrative office, 13 women have been selected for the annual awards, which will be held on Sept. 28 at the Albertson VFW Post 5253 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The awards were broken up into categories of professionals such as those in health care, education, business, military and volunteer services, and are presented to women who work above and beyond their requirements in the community.