There will be little joy in the stables this Christmas in Fresh Meadows.
The Western Riding Club, located at 169-38 Pidgeon Meadow Road for the last three years and run by Joy Tirado, will have to close Dec. 31. A judge last week threw out Tirado’s lawsuit to delay eviction until she raised money to purchase the property.
The site, though not landmarked, has been used as a stable for at least 100 years and for 200 more as farmland.
Tirado’s landlord, John Lightstone, 87, lives in the adjacent house and wants to sell the entire property to the Reformed Church of America, a Korean congregation. Church members told her they planned to tear down the barn and turn it into a parking lot and use the house as a church.
She claimed Lightstone never told her the property was listed last year. She was supposed to be out by the end of July, but the Knights of Columbus held a fundraiser and Tirado was able to hire an attorney, who filed a legal complaint, which put the move on hold.
Since then, she has been trying to raise money to purchase the property and turn it into a community center and stable. Despite support from the community, she does not have enough money to retain a lawyer to appeal. In addition, Lightstone did not renew the stable permit with the Department of Health and the seven horses have to be moved out by Jan. 1.
“It’s not good at this point,” Tirado said. “We need $2,500 at the very least to appeal.”
She indicated her lawyer didn’t include all pertinent information in the lawsuit and the appeal she wants to file would elaborate on that. The K of C wants to help, she said, but can’t hold another fundraiser until after the first of the year.
Tirado is also working on getting nonprofit status so she can apply for a loan and conduct business during any appeal. In addition, she would then be able to rent out the seven empty stalls to bring in more money.
She believes an appeal could take up to a year, giving her time to apply for grants and raise additional money to purchase the property.
“Things are in motion,” Tirado said, but time is the problem.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who has been trying to help the stable, said on Monday that she should be able to renew the lease, but at this point can’t stay. “It’s a shame,” Avella said. “I hope we can help find her a new stable.”
Lightstone’s attorney, Jeff Adam Schwartz, said that Tirado brought the lawsuit “at the 11th hour” and that her attorney “merely made allegations and legal conclusions without providing any legal research of precedents to support her claims.”
He noted that Tirado has not paid rent for months and remains in unlawful possession of the stable.
“We complied, generously, with the terms of the lease that she and her ex-husband entered into, without a gun to their heads,” Schwartz added. “She has had many months to prepare for this, even if it was just a ‘Plan B,’ and like it or not, now is the time for her to put that plan into action.”
Tirado responded that she is accountable for the rent from August until her appeal is heard “and I will appeal, even if I have to do it myself,” she said.
Donations can be sent online to:
Secure.piryx.com/donate/onkncUYd/Joy/Western-Riding-Club. Tirado also accepts donations at the stable seven days a week, from noon to 6 p.m.