By STEVE JONES Sentinel staff writer
Rome’s attempt to clean up Park Drive Estates will be the topic of a court appearance on Feb. 16. A green light from the judge that day would clear the way for work to begin.
Last year, city Code Enforcement officials spent months combing through the buildings at the 270-unit, former Woodhaven housing complex off Gansevoort Avenue. They recorded conditions and then outlined a plan to force compliance from the owner — or at least get legal authority to make the owner pay the bill.
The city will appear in state Supreme Court on Feb. 16 to get permission to demolish four buildings totaling nine units and to bill the owner for the work.
Also, the city wants the owner to board up buildings that need to be secured. The owner, according to city officials, has requested a list of those buildings in order to do that work. A list is expected to be generated by next week — 26 structures totaling 62 units. Local officials are also trying to get the owner to replace manhole covers and sewer grates that had been removed by vandals from the streets within Park Drive Estates, which are privately owned.
The city code review from 2011 also noted a host of violations for conditions of the buildings. The city will soon file a court action on those violations, but it has been held up because it cannot do so in City Court, as the owner is not headquartered in Oneida County or a bordering county, so the case is out of the court’s jurisdiction.
Park Drive Estates is a private development. New York City-based developers bought the site from the federal government for $2.05 million and have been trying to rehabilitate the 70-acre site at various paces and with limited results. In September of 2008, several years into the process, Park Drive Estates (the corporate name of the property owner) partnered with a New Jersey-based company called Ocean Management to finance what had become a $25 million project. The company, which has let its property taxes lapse almost to the point of city foreclosure, currently owes 2011 taxes totaling $125,600 for the parcel.
To date, only 10 of the houses have certificates of occupancy. The city has allowed rehabilitation in phases, with the current first phase covering about two dozen houses along Park Drive.
The Common Council has already approved spending up to $130,000 from the Capital Reserve Account for the work. The city must spend the money on the work, then seek reimbursement through a state Supreme Court order.