After months of repeated attempts to get the Long Island Rail Road to clean up their “Zombie Railroad” property, Supervisor Anthony J. Santino, Councilman Gary Hudes and Assemblyman Thomas McKevitt are demanding that a 2 mile stretch of Levittown property, which is owned by the railroad operator, be cleaned up. The conditions are so deplorable that neighbors adjacent to the property can’t even sit outside of their own homes. In one case, a homeowner with a child with physical challenges is a virtual prisoner in her own home due to the mice and insects that infest the area around the untreated property.
“It is unacceptable for the LIRR to essentially abandon this 2 mile stretch of property, while residents near this zombie railroad property have to suffer,” said Santino. “It is time for the LIRR to show some respect for neighbors, beginning with the immediate cleanup of this property.”
The officials noted that the parcel does not meet the strict definition of a zombie property since it is not the subject of a foreclosure. However, Santino and Hudes stated that the conditions at the site are far worse than almost every zombie property they have visited. The 2 mile long parcel, that spans the community of Levittown, has grass as tall at 5 feet high and is littered with debris. The property has been cited as a breeding ground for insects, mice and rats. The officials toured the tract of land and saw broken glass, discarded basketball hoops, garbage, large drainage pipes and more.
According to the Levittown Historical Society, from 1871 until the 1930’s, the Central Branch of the Long Island Rail Road (called the Stewart Line) ran through the future Levittown. It transported passengers, livestock and seed potatoes. In 1948, William Levitt reconstructed sections of the Stewart Line in East Meadow to transport building materials for his housing project.
“I have met with representatives of the LIRR on numerous occasions to express the frustration of residents who have to deal with these horrible conditions,” Hudes added. “Yet, no matter how many times we discuss this issue, the deplorable conditions are not addressed.”
“The LIRR has been a terrible neighbor,” stated McKevitt. “Local homeowners deserve better, and we will fight to make sure the Long Island Rail Road cleans up its act.”
Town code requires residents to maintain their properties to a certain standard, including prohibiting lawns, weeds, grass or brush of any kind to obtain a height in excess of 8 inches. It is also unlawful for any owner to allow garbage, litter, refuse, rubbish or rubble to accumulate. Santino and Hudes said that the LIRR should hold itself to the same standard required of homeowners and businesses. Failure to do so makes the Long Island Rail Road a bad neighbor, according to Santino.
“There is one thing worse than a zombie house…and that is the arrogant and unresponsive bureaucracy at the Long Island Rail Road,” concluded Santino. “If a homeowner kept their property like this, they would be in court. The LIRR needs to be a better neighbor and clean up their zombie railroad property.”