FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM JULY 19, 2018 • THE QUEENS COURIER 3
reopens in Flushing
An annual local farmers market has bloomed
once more in downtown Flushing.
Th e Flushing Greenmarket at Maple Playground
offi cially launched its third season on July 11. Th e
market will be open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. every
Wednesday until Nov. 28.
Th e weekly market at 136-50 Maple Ave. will
feature fresh fruits, vegetables and other goods
sourced from local farmers. All food items are
grown or produced within 250 miles of New York
Th e NYC Department of Health will also host
nutrition education workshops in English, Spanish
and Chinese at the events through the agency’s
Stellar Markets program. Participants over 18
years of age will receive a $2 Health Bucks coupon,
which can be used at the market
Food scrap collection will also be available every
market day until 1 p.m. Collections will be brought
back to the Queens Botanical Garden on Main
Street to be turned into compost.
Th e annual market is organized by the Greater
Flushing Chamber of Commerce and GrowNYC,
an organization that works to preserve local farmland
and provide access to healthy foods. Cash,
SNAP/EBT, Debit/Credit, WIC and Senior FMNP
coupons are accepted at the Greenmarket.
According to GrowNYC, unsold produce feeds
the hungry aft er being donated to City Harvest,
Food Bank of New York City, and neighborhood
soup kitchens and food pantries.
Visit grownyc.org/greenmarket/queens/fl ushing
for more information.
Contractor admits to
A former Long Island contractor who admitted
to stealing more than $170,000 from families
that lost their homes to Superstorm Sandy in
Queens was sentenced to prison time, prosecutors
Andrew Troiano, 56, a former Lake Grove,
Long Island, resident currently living in Lititz,
Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to multiple counts
of second- and third-degree grand larceny in
September 2017. He was sentenced to serve one to
three years in prison on July 13.
According to the charges, on July 19, 2013, a
family that resided on Fulton Walk in Breezy Point
hired the contractor to build a new home on their
property. Th e concrete foundation was poured and
the property owners received a bill for $58,500 in
April 2014. Th e family paid the sum in full.
Troiano hired a contractor to the pour the
cement and a second contractor for crane work.
However, Troiano did not pay either contractor.
When the second contractor was not paid, the
crane company placed a lien on the family’s property,
even though the owners had paid Troiano in
full for the work.
A forensic review of Troiano’s company bank
account found that there were deposits from the
victims but there were no payments to subcontractors.
Th e only withdrawals from the account
were for unrelated matters, including electrical
work on a diff erent property, cellphone and cable
bill payments, and purchases at liquor stores
and restaurants. Th ere were also payments to an
attorney and cash withdrawals that totaled more
Photo by Suzanne Monteverdi/The Courier
Flushing residents confront owner
of long-abandoned property
BY SUZANNE MONTEVERDI
email@example.com / @smont76
A Flushing residence that has been
abandoned for years continues to
cause quality-of-life concerns — and
neighbors have had enough.
Outside of the structure at 35-20
167th St., tempers fl ared between
locals and the property owner, who
showed up to plead his case at a
rally organized by state Senator Tony
Avella on July 16.
Owner Robert Gezelter told neighbors
he was gardening at the property,
which he claimed he intends
to renovate. Gezelter has plans to
remove the boards from the windows,
he said, and hire a landscaper.
Complaints about abandoned conditions
at the property date back to
2001 on the Department of Buildings
“Since I’ve been involved in this
now for over a year, I’ve heard this
story from you two or three times,”
Avella said. “Th ere’s a limit to what I’ll
believe. I don’t believe you anymore.”
“I’m not asking you to believe anything,
Senator,” Gezelter retorted.
“He just tells lies. He’s like
Pinocchio,” one resident called out.
Next-door neighbors Joe and
Joanne Vitulli, who have lived in
Flushing for over 40 years, spoke
with Th e Courier about the property
in November 2016. Th e couple said
the home, which has been abandoned
for over two decades, breeds animal
infestations and attracts teenagers or
Th e house also posed structural
concerns when, in 2017, the back
portion of the house collapsed. In
January 2018, DOB issued an emergency
declaration for the demolition
of the rear addition.
Work to demolish and seal the
addition was completed in the following
months aft er the Department
of Housing Preservation fi led a permit
for the job.
Joe Vitulli said he doesn’t understand
why the owner won’t sell the
“You know how many people ring
our doorbell in the nighttime wanting
to know who the owner of the property
is?” Vitulli said.
“I am not interested in selling,”
Avella and rally attendees marched
to the property owner’s current residence
on 168th Street, where he
reportedly lives with his parents.
Th e state senator told residents he is
“going to continue to push” to get the
“He seems to think he’s some sort
of an injured party here. Shame on
him,” Avella said.
Avella and locals walk past the abandoned residence on 167th Street in Flushing