By Wenhao Ma
Brookhaven Town is doing everything it can to clean up neighborhoods in their area.
The town board unanimously passed a resolution to submit a grant application to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to request funding for the Town Fire Marshals’ Anti-Blight Housing Code Enforcement Project July 21.
The town hopes to receive $25,000 from the state government to help with the cost of assessing neglected homes.
The Anti-Blight Housing Code Enforcement Project, according to town spokesman Kevin Molloy, has been going on for three-and-a-half years. It was designed to assess the abandoned properties that have harmful conditions and come up with resolutions to either repair or remove them. All the grant money, if approved, will be spent on the assessments of the homes. A mobile app is being developed for residents to report blighted buildings.
Molloy said the town’s law department and the fire marshal are responsible for the assessments. If the town attorney or fire marshal determines a house to be a threat to the neighborhood, the town may contact the owner, or when necessary, demolish the house, according to Brookhaven Town Code. The owner will be charged with the cost of tearing down the building.
“With every demolition, every property cleanup and every court case we pursue, we are turning communities around and giving people the quality of life that they deserve.”
— Dan Panico
Molloy said blighted properties can be a real danger to residents. People who enter a house that is unsafe may hurt themselves and, if the condition of the property constitutes a fire hazard, it could endanger the surrounding buildings and residents.
Safety is not the only reason for the town to establish such a project. Property values of homes suffer when an unkempt house is nearby.
One abandoned house in the neighborhood, Molloy said, could decrease the value of all the houses in the vicinity. By demolishing it, the project helps boost the value of other properties.
Eliminating “zombie homes” has long been a battle taken up by current board members.
“With every demolition, every property cleanup and every court case we pursue,” said Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville) July 15 in a statement after the demolition of an abandoned house in Mastic, “we are turning communities around and giving people the quality of life that they deserve.”
Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) was on site for a demolition on Monroe Street in Rocky Point in June.
“Nearly every community in Brookhaven Town has been hit by the increase of vacant, neglected houses,” Romaine said. “Unfortunately, many of them are run-down and not secure from animals and squatters. We will continue to clean up properties.”
Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) also attended the Rocky Point demolition.
“I am very happy for the residents that live on the street,” she said following the demolition. “Some stopped by during the demolition just to say how very thankful they were that it was coming down.”
With the help of the grant money, more homes could be demolished in an effort to clean up the neighborhoods of the North Shore.