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Raccoons take over vacant Marine Park construction site

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A vacant construction site that has languished for years on Kimball Street has some pesky new squatters — raccoons.

“There used to be people sleeping in there, not any more, now the raccoons took over,” said Vinnie Mauro, 83, a Korean War vet who lives near the battle zone on Kimball Street and Avenue V where neighbors say the unwelcome guests are the latest wrench in the works for a project blocked by the city for ignoring local zoning laws.

Mauro said the nocturnal critters have even adapted to scavenging for breakfast in the overflowing trash during daylight hours.

“They come into the garbage cans in the morning, we try to tie the covers down, but it doesn’t work — it’s infested!”

Angry neighbors also charge that the developer, the Kimball Group, has ignored the broken sidewalk and the overflowing garbage that have turned their streets into a trash-riddled land mine, making even a simple stroll by the site a potential hazard.

“The building’s owners have been specifically asked to repair the sidewalk and their outright refusal to do that is like giving a big finger to the community,” said Michael Benjamin, whose father Roger, a 97-year-old World War II vet, lives nearby. “It would be impossible for a member of the disabled community or for a baby carriage to pass that sidewalk.”

Mauro said Roger Benjamin, his war buddy, is forced to walk in the street to avoid the debris.

“One day, I saw a car barely miss him,” he said.

The city halted the construction in 2008 after residents charged that the multi-purpose dwelling was built two stories too high — a measure that has resulted in the accumulation of trash to a point where only a sliver of the pavement is visible, they say. The Kimball Group will present its application to keep the additional floors at a March 20 Board of Standards and Appeals hearing.

Meanwhile, residents say they deserve better.

“We served our country when asked to, now in our twilight years for the city to do nothing when a builder decides to walk away from a project is an outrage,” said Roger Benjamin.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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