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Queens Chronicle

Dirty, dangerous lot in Jamaica cleaned

Owner has racked up over $45K in safety and construction violations

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Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:26 am, Thu Feb 14, 2013.

After months of collecting filth, a dirty vacant lot in Jamaica has been cleaned by the owner, thanks to concerned citizen Joe Moretti, who brought public attention to the eyesore at 91-22 175 St.

Three workers were at the site on Monday morning, sawing through planks of discarded wood and collecting the garbage that was strewn everywhere. They would not give their names, but they did say they were contacted by the owner that day and sent to clean the mess.

“This will all be gone by the end of the day and we are going to put the wooden barrier back up,” one of the men explained.

According to the Department of Buildings’ website, the owner is Mimie Jagassar. There are $46,090 fines in Environmental Control Board violations for construction and safety issues at the site, going back to 2004, and one DOB violation for construction without a permit from 2007. Jagassar could not immediately be reached for comment.

“I live here and I get tired of seeing this crap,” Moretti said. “It’s not pleasing to the eye and it doesn’t do anything to attract new people or businesses to the neighborhood.”

Moretti, who has made it his mission to eradicate such eyesores from Jamaica, started to complain to city agencies and elected officials about the site back in November, but got no response. Only the Department of Sanitation got back to him only to say that they would look into it.

Moretti also voiced his concern on the Queens Crap blog, getting dozens of responses from readers and peaking interest in the blighted property.

Jamaica’s Mr. Clean said the site really stood out to him because the rest of the block is relatively clean. When told that the owner had finally sent workers to tidy up the lot, Moretti was pleased, but also wary that over time, it would be neglected and return to the same unsightly mess it was before, something he said is typical of abandoned properties in the neighborhood.

“I’m glad it got cleaned up,” Moretti said. “That’s great. But how long is it going to stay that way? These cleanups are usually just a temporary fix. There are hundreds of other places in Jamaica just like this one.”

The activist said dilapidated properties cause outsiders to make incorrect assumptions about the area, like that people don’t care about their homes or their quality of life or that there is a lot of crime, poverty and homelessness there.

“Seeing all this garbage just turns people off,” Moretti said. “It gets me angry on so many different levels.”

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