Featured Story

Town will secure abandoned Ram Island residence

COURTESY OF THE SHELTER ISLAND BUILDING DEPARTMENT Photo taken in November 2018 of the entrance to an unoccupied Ram Island Drive residence.

Just before Thanksgiving, the town’s Building Department sent a message to Dominic Barbara and his family about their residence: Either you fix it, or we’ll fix it.

At Tuesday’s Town Board work session, Senior Building Inspector Chris Tehan reported that his office had received no word since November from Mr. Barbara concerning the unoccupied house on Big Ram Island that has fallen into disrepair to the point where it has become a health and safety hazard.

Mr. Tehan described the property, owned by Mr. 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 has said.

The house was once foreclosed on by a bank and then was bought back by Mr. Barbara and his children.

Once a high-profile Long Island attorney, Mr. Barbara’s law license has been suspended since 2011 for improper activities.

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 town has sent registered letters to Mr. Barbara and family members but have heard nothing in response. The next step, Mr. Tehan said Tuesday, was to ask Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr. to visit the site and make an assessment of what it will take to clean up the property and make it safe. Any unpaid bills to Mr. Barbara for work done will be paid for by a lien on the property, Mr. Tehan said.

Board members agreed to the plan to make the house safe, but urged that information be sent to the owners at every step of the process.