A car covered in dust. Wheels caked up nearly half their height in dirt. A parking ticket tucked between the front seats. A baby seat placed in the back.
After several calls over the course of a year to 311, an abandoned red Toyota Corolla that sat on Valles Avenue and Post Road on West 254th Street for more than a year has finally been moved.
Joan Adler, who lives across the street from the derelict car, said she heard noises outside on Friday prompting her to check a window.
“I looked outside and it was gone,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. It’s gone.”
Adler called the abandoned vehicle a health hazard. She was concerned the Corolla would become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and vermin.
Another resident, Frances Zamcheck, said she looked out her downstairs window early Friday evening and found the car gone as well. After a year of complaints, Zamcheck can’t explain why the car was finally removed now, but feels it could be any combination of work by the police, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, or even The Riverdale Press, which started investigating the neighborhood eyesore last week.
“I was thrilled and surprised,” she said. “My first thought that perhaps all of our agitation had succeeded in someone finally taking action. It is actually a great mystery, but we are very happy that it is gone.”
Adler said she first reported the car parked along the eastbound side of the road and toward the middle of the street last September. She called 311, a number to report non-emergency matters that falls under the city’s responsibility, three times, and each time nothing came of it and the car still remained on the street. Zamcheck also tried the 311 route, especially since the abandoned Toyota partially blocked her driveway.
“The fact that it (was) always there makes it difficult to get in and out, especially when there are other cars coming,” she said. Valles Avenue and Post Road have two-way traffic despite how narrow it is. The abandoned car, Zamcheck said, only added to that problem.
Det. Mindy Ramos from the 50th precinct said the department received two calls about the derelict vehicle, both of which came from 311. They were advised of the Toyota last September, but officers investigated a wrong address and found no car matching that description. The precinct received a second call in April, with a corrected address, and the car was removed on May 5.
The city’s website said it’s up to local police to tow derelict cars. Owners are then tracked down, and would have to pay towing and storage fees before they can retrieve their car.
Jeff Johnson, who also lives in the vicinity, said he saw police officers checking out the abandoned car sometime last week. They “scrutinized it, and that’s all I can tell you,” he said.
With no results from 311, Adler said she contacted Dinowitz’s office early last week. A Dinowitz spokesman said he contacted the 50th precinct and that the car was removed last Friday. Adler also reached out to The Press, and one day after the newspaper started asking about the car, it was removed.
Yet the derelict Toyota wasn’t alone, neighbors said. Another car on the road is stuck with a “boot” on the wheel, because of unpaid parking tickets totaling more than $350, listed the city’s website. There’s also a van some suspect is someone’s home.
That, Zamcheck said, is creating an unflattering atmosphere in a location with beautiful homes.
“People are seeing this street as a place where people can keep cars for an insurmountable length of time and the cars won’t be touched,” she said.
However, the removal of the Toyota could send a new message.
It “is a signal that someone is paying attention to our little street,” Zamcheck said, “hopefully in a positive way.”