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Town to secure abandoned house

REPORTER FILE PHOTO

REPORTER FILE PHOTO

It’s a case of either you fix it, or we’ll fix it.

That’s how Senior Building Inspector Chris Tehan described a residence on Big Ram Island to the Town Board Tuesday that has fallen into disrepair to the point where it has become a health and safety hazard.

Mr. Tehan described the unoccupied property, owned by Dominic Barbara and two of his children, as a place difficult to get to because of overgrown bushes and downed tree limbs, with windows open to the elements and overrun with vermin, squirrels and raccoons. Emergency vehicles would have serious problems trying to get to the place, Mr. Tehan said.

Aside from being an eyesore, the building inspector said neighbors of the Ram Island Drive residence are fearful because of an empty pool with no fence around it, and an aboveground deck with no railings. It’s a catastrophe waiting to happen for curious children exploring the wreck of a house.

The house was once foreclosed on by a bank, Mr. Tehan said, and then was bought back by Mr. Barbara and his children. A once high-profile Long Island attorney, Mr. Barbara’s law license has been suspended for improper activities.

Letters have been sent to the owners with no response, but Mr. Tehan said Mr. Barbara had mentioned, “If we [the town] tightened it up, he has no problem.”

The plan would be to board up windows and doors, remove the deck and possibly fence in the pool or fill it with sand, Mr. Tehan said.

Councilman Albert Dickson asked Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr. if the town had legal cover to proceed with a remediation plan. Mr. DeStefano said the Building Department could go ahead if all legal procedures were followed.

“We must check every box,” he added.

The cost of covering work and materials to secure the property could be paid by placing a lien on the property, Mr. Tehan said.

Councilman Paul Shepherd expressed concern that Mr. Barbara was an attorney who might be difficult to deal with. Mr. DeStefano said there is nothing in the law to stop someone from suing you, but if you practice due diligence on proceeding, there should be no problem.

A resolution on the matter will be on the agenda at the Town Board’s regular meeting on September 28.

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