HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – Town officials in Hempstead, Long Island say they're publicly shaming the MTA to get them to clean up a two miles stretch of unused land in the community of Levittown.
Grass as tall as 5 feet high, debris everywhere, mice and insects rampant.
Hempstead town officials say the MTA owns the land and it's time they send out the cleaning crew.
From 1871 to the 1930s, the LIRR ran through Levittown. It transported passengers, livestock and potatoes. But in the present day, the LIRR does not service Levittown.
Town officials and area residents held a news conference today on Neptune Lane between Meridian Road and Mallard Road. The stretch of land runs along the site of today's press event.
"It's the height of arrogance that the LIRR feels it can ignore this problem and be a terrible neighbor," Town supervisor Anthony Santino said.
Homeowner Vienna Kirkland said, "I see holes from the mice biting their way in constantly."
Kirkland's home abuts the MTA owned land. She describes the living conditions for her and her 15-year-old daughter, Destiny. She's owned her Levittown home for five years and in that time she says she's spent thousands of dollars on exterminators. She showed PIX11 the traps inside and outside her home. They feel like they can't sit outside and enjoy their backyard.
"We are constantly being bitten by animals coming through possums, squirrels, bees," said Kirkland.
Hempstead town officials said they've been asking the MTA -which runs the LIRR - for 6 years now to clean up their property. The last request made just three weeks ago.
"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," Santino said.
The area is not currently being used by the railroad. And while the land doesn't meet the criteria for a zombie property because it's not in foreclosure, town officials say it's worse than any zombie home they've ever seen.
"Welcome to your big bad zombie neighbor welcome to the LIRR's two mile stretch of zombie property in Levittown," Santino said.
Councilman Gary Hudes adds,"This is not rocket science this doesn't need a study doesn't need a plan it needs a lawnmower."
Because the property is owned by a state agency, Hempstead officials say they don't have the jurisdiction to clean it up. So residents here have to deal with 5 feet tall grass, mice, insects and trash.
"Shame on you LIRR something should be done and done now," says Kirkland.
MTA spokesperson Sal Arena provided the following statement:
“The LIRR's vegetation management program must prioritize the 700 miles of active track in need of constant attention for safety purposes, but in response to community outreach we trimmed this decommissioned stretch of railroad just last month, will continue to do so, and will continue to stay in contact with local elected officials, as we have as recently as this week.”