St. Michael’s Cemetery in East Elmhurst is embroiled in a boundary dispute with a neighbor to its west on 49th Street.
In an 11-page complaint filed in Queens Supreme Court on Oct. 1, cemetery officials claim that the operator of an adjoining junkyard has encroached on its property since the late 1990s, shortly after a break or gap appeared in the fence separating the cemetery from a commercial property at 24-37 49 St.
Multiple documents filed with the court since September list the defendant as Tom Tiseo or Tom Ticeo.
The 88-acre cemetery, with the address of 72-02 Astoria Blvd., opened in 1852. It is the final resting place of ragtime composer Scott Joplin and boxer Emile Griffith, who held title belts in three weight classes.
At issue in the Oct. 1 filing is a fence that Tiseo is alleged to have had put up in September on cemetery property.
Documents state that in the late 1990s, the break in the fence became a problem when dogs from the junkyard would roam the cemetery unchecked and unrestrained.
St. Michael’s leaders allegedly were rebuffed when asking Tiseo to repair the fence or to have the cemetery do so at its own cost.
In response, the cemetery erected a fence of its own on its property to contain the break in the fence.
“That eliminated the dog problem years ago,” said attorney Gregory Nahas of the firm Paradalis & Nohavicka, which represents St. Michael’s.
What cemetery officials claim happened next was that vehicles, construction materials and other debris from the junkyard began appearing on land between the property line and the containment fence.
“At no time did St. Michael’s concede ownership of any of its property,” cemetery officials state in a court filing from September.
The cemetery also claims that Tiseo in September erected a fence running approximately 58 feet within cemetery property, allegedly encroaching by 3 to 5 feet in given sections, according to a professional surveyor it hired. The Chronicle was unable to contact Tiseo. City records list the property owner as Bowery Bay Associates with the same address of the junkyard, but with a mailing address in Sheridan, Wyo.
A check of business records showed that the Wyoming address is that of a forwarding service that accepts mail for various businesses.