Crumbling Inwood building becoming a hazard

Oct. 29 incident calls attention to possible roof collapse


Overgrown, covered in graffiti and littered with old tires and discarded trash, the property at 175 Roger Ave. in Inwood, formerly the cite of Rockaway Metal Products Inc., has gone from public eyesore to local safety hazard.

In the roughly 28 years the location has been abandoned it’s become a haven for drug use, flooded the nearby homes when pipes burst and was declared a Superfund site by the federal Environmental Protection Agency due to hazardous materials being found on site.

The roof on the north side of the building has all but completely collapsed, and now there’s concern that the southern end of the building may be threatening some of the homes it borders.

Nassau police and officials from the county’s Office of Emergency Management were called to the scene on Oct. 29, because a portion of the building was bulging out and threatening to fall on one of the homes on Cerro Street.

Despite the concerns, the county’s Department of Public Works is confident that the two-story section adjacent to the homes is structurally sound. “It has been observed several displaced lintels, cracking of the masonry, and erosion of the masonry face to the point where the structural steel is visible through the wall,” said Mary Studdert, a DPW spokeswoman “But again — the wall appears plumb (level) and not in any danger of immediate collapse.”

Bill Poelaski, an Inwood resident, thinks the building needs to be demolished before it becomes a larger danger. He’s concerned that a small fire, lit by a homeless person seeking shelter could end up spreading and burning down the entire area. “If this isn’t a priority then what is?,” he said.

The county inherited the property in 1995 with the hope of selling it to a business consistent with the area’s zoning. However, 22 years later the eyesore remains.

On April 24, the Nassau County Legislature borrowed $2.1 million to demolish the building. Six months later no apparent progress has been made. “If this wasn’t Inwood I doubt it would have been left like this,” Poelaski said. “If this wasn’t owned by the county, just by a guy, they’d probably take him off in handcuffs.”

County Legislator Carriė Solages (D-Elmont) helped to lead the charge to demolish the building in his legislative district. “Following the incident this weekend, I have reached out to the county executive and the commissioner of the Department of Public Works requesting this project move forward as quickly as possible. The first priority for me is to clean up this site, which has become an eyesore and public safety threat for the community,” Solages said.

When the $2.1 million was originally announced in April, Solages emphasized that the cost is reasonable given what they have to deal with. “That sounds like I high figure but I did the due diligence in making sure that it’s done wisely, and apparently the is an environmental issue with toxins,” he said, previously.

The building transverses the largely industrial area, but nearly touches some of the homes on Cerro Street on the south side of the site. Also surrounding the property is SONY Entertainment Studio, Expeditors International, a global logistics company and a Town of Hempstead recycling facility.

Studdert said the county is reviewing proposals for the potential sale of the property.

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