Trashy Brooklyn Heights yard has neighbors fuming

The Brooklyn Paper
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The filthiest backyard in Brooklyn Heights has gotten so bad that at least one neighbor has started cleaning it himself.

Community residents have been griping about a lawn-turned-garbage dump on Henry Street for years, but still haven’t convinced landlords or business owners to take responsibility for it.

The rat-filled sty around the corner from Montague Street is filled with overturned furniture, plastic bottles and bags, a heap of wood forming what looks like a hovel, clay planters and a deflated basketball — and that’s after a Brooklyn Heights businessman tried to tidy up the space.

“It’s third-world disgusting!” said Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association. “Everyone walking by can see it from Henry Street. “It’s a dumping ground.”

Longtime neighbor Andrew Porter said that the slummy shared courtyard turns into a dining room for vermin at night, and that passersby are confusing the yard for a mini-landfill.

“A few days ago there was a sofa there,” Porter said. “I just wish someone would clean it up. I wish the garden would have flowers.”

The junk pile is behind a row of Montague Street businesses, including Andy’s Chinese restaurant, Dashing Diva nail salon, and the Heights Vision Center. All three of the lot’s landlords — including major Coney Island developer Thor Equities, which owns the salon’s building — did not return calls from The Brooklyn Paper.

Neighbors claim that calls to 311 and business managers have been no use. Some residents were so fed up that they even blamed Father James Root at Our Lady Lebanon Cathedral, which is separated from the trashy lot by a brick wall and a driveway.

“Someone asked me, ‘Are you throwing the garbage over?’ Yes, I haul garbage over the wall after service,” Root said sarcastically. “Seriously, we don’t know why it looks like that.”

In the 1980s, the forsaken grounds housed a memorial garden and a fountain in honor of the former landlord’s son, according to Root. Things got messy after the family moved away.

“Now it’s always a pigsty and there’s always rats,” Root said. “It’s been like this for years. People are always throwing garbage at the property.”

But there’s some hope amid the rubbish.

Bobby Cruz — the former owner of the UPS Store down the block — got into the garden and bagged some of the litter last week.

Cruz hopes to open a tapas and wine bar beneath Heights Vision in the spring and wants to turn part of the messy yard into outdoor seating and the rest into a garden.

He claims he has already received permission from Thor Equities to tidy up their section of the yard.

“It was disgusting,” said Cruz, who hauled a Dumpster to the site and cleared out a shed, a baby crib, a few dead trees, and empty beer bottles. “For years, no one has taken care of it. I’m going to finish cleaning the rest so we can finally have a garden.”

Reach Kate Briquelet at or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.
Updated 5:29 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Steve Nitwitt from Sheepshead Bay says:
Looks like a photo Norm took of Atlantic Yards
Jan. 20, 2012, 2:16 am
Dr. Lesbo from Mangina park says:
This is appalling!
Jan. 20, 2012, 9:06 am
BB from GP says:
I love the guy's pose in the enlarged photo. It should be in the dictionary as an illustration of WTF?
Jan. 20, 2012, 9:20 am
Harriet Van Gina from Park Slope says:
I agree with Dr. Lesbo - you make a solid point.
Jan. 20, 2012, 10:41 am
swamp yankee from the swamp says:
Thanks for cleaning that lot up. Now there will be plenty of room when I toss all the junk there I wanted to get rid of.
Jan. 20, 2012, 10:51 am
Nick from Brooklyn says:
Bobby Cruz thank you for trying to clean up a mess you did not create and for trying to bring a new and interesting business that I would be interested in supporting to the horror that is Montague Street.
Jan. 20, 2012, 1:11 pm
Georgianna Dutchess of Brooklyn from Fort Greene says:
Wait! QUOTE: "He claims he has already received permission from Thor Equities to tidy up their section of the yard."

THOR? They own this lot??? If true, why aren't they 1) maintaining it and/or 2) getting fined by the City letting it go as described in the article?

Why do people have to volunteer and get permission from THOR to tidy up their mess?

I really do hope they can get it together to beautify the spot and make it useful.
Jan. 20, 2012, 2:51 pm
Saatchi from Brooklyn Heights says:
This property is not one lot as many people think. It is comprised of the "backyards" of those buildings on it's Montague St. perimeter. I administered the property for many years till I left the neighborhood three years ago. I even looked up the records in the City Clerk's office. All those buildings at one time were owned by one person. She is long passed and each of the buildings have new owners. They should take responsibility.
Jan. 20, 2012, 4:36 pm
Saatchi from Brooklyn Heights says:
Oh and by the way... Many people over the years approached me to see if they could commercialize the property. You can, not. It is not one property as I said. And, there is also the issue of the fire exit for Nine West Shoe store as well as basement access to the other buildings.
Jan. 20, 2012, 4:39 pm
Blacquelle Jackson from Bushwick, honey hole ave. says:
Whoa child! Honey-mamma! Dat be dirty! Dirty dirty.
Jan. 20, 2012, 5:27 pm
Vin from None of your business says:
Oh no! Garbage? a brooklyn alley? Whatever shall you do? you should all get together and have a big hipster cryfest. Boo hoo! I found this snickers wrapper laying on the ground! You think this is bad...i lived all over queens and bk in seventies. You couldnt walk two feet without stepping on a junkies needle that was still attached to a passed out junkies arm. There was a garbage strike and garbage was piled up so high that you could smell it in jersey. New species of mutated giant rats evolved in the piles of garbage. then summer came and the piles of garbage rotted. so quit your whining.
Jan. 20, 2012, 6:31 pm
ty from pps says:
Oh Vin -- I know, it's such a shame that people want their neighborhoods to be nice. If only Brooklyn could be like it was in the 70s so we could be as awesome as you.
Jan. 20, 2012, 7 pm
Skellatosis from FG says:
Vin must live in the slums
Jan. 20, 2012, 8:08 pm
shutupVin from hipsterville says:
If the hipsters and families who currently live in brooklyn decided to stay in Minnesota, New Jersey or PA, Brooklyn would have remained a dump and your missing needle would still be stuck in your arm. So get over it douche. As annoying as the kickball elite are, they do try and cleanup the trash left behind from your tenure in the BK. Besides, East Brooklyn still has the charm you have been missing, might I suggest you start apartment shopping..
Jan. 21, 2012, 5:50 am
Vin from None Of your business says:
Wah wah you little baby - go and cry at your little, hipster espresso cafe. I'll just have a regular coffee, thank you very much. Go enjoy a cupcake panini!
Jan. 21, 2012, 7:57 am
Pam Hole from Park Slope says:
Both Vin and Dr. Lesbo make good points. So hard to choose...
Is vin some kind of foul Italian loser guy , or is he hot and tough?
Jan. 21, 2012, 10:15 am
Vin from None of your business says:
Sounds like some little hipster wants his mommy .
"wahh mommy, I've done doody in my diaper, won't you wipe my baby butt with a moist towlette?"

Ha ha ha!
Jan. 21, 2012, 2:12 pm

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