Resident: Fence gone, prostitutes back

Schenectady man says foreclosure made lot accessible again

Thursday, October 11, 2012
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Felix Rodriguez stands Wednesday in front of a vacant lot  that he says is used by prostitutes and drug users.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Felix Rodriguez stands Wednesday in front of a vacant lot that he says is used by prostitutes and drug users.

— The city’s wave of foreclosures appears to have benefited an unexpected group: prostitutes.

On Moyston Street in the Vale neighborhood, prostitutes are once again bringing customers to a dark lot at the end of the dead-end street, one area resident says.

A tax foreclosure led the city to open up that lot, making it easily accessible to anyone looking for an out-of-sight location late at night.

The location used to be popular with prostitutes, so much so that the noise from their activities used to wake resident Joseph Rodriguez. After a few months, he asked the lot’s owner if he could build a fence to keep the prostitutes out.

She agreed, so he built a tall stockade fence and the prostitutes found somewhere else for a rendezvous.

Until September.

That’s when the city took the lot through a tax foreclosure. The owner had died and no one had paid taxes on it. Code enforcers inspected and immediately discovered the stockade fence, which is illegal in the city.

Fences along the sidewalk can either be solid and short, or tall and see-through. A 6-foot-tall, solid wood fence does not qualify.

Rodriguez told the enforcers that he had put up the fence. They told him to take it down by Sept. 10. He did so, and now the prostitutes are back, he said.

“You can hear the, you know, moaning,” he said. “The sound of the engine and the … noise. They drive in a van and turn the ignition and you can hear it all.”

And it’s the middle of the night.

“It wakes me up,” he said. “And people like to dump stuff too. Big pile of trash, in the past. When I put the fence up, that stopped.”

He said he tried to get police to chase away the prostitutes before he built the fence.

“We’d call police, but they don’t show up,” he said. “So the woman who owned it, her name was Maria, she gave me permission for the fence.”

He explained the problem to the code enforcers, he said. He believed they promised concrete barriers, which would keep out vehicular traffic. But it’s been a month since he took down the fence and there’s no barrier yet.

Building Inspector Eric Shilling said the engineering department would be in charge of planning the barriers, but he said he wasn’t familiar with the situation. A call to the engineering department was not returned.

In the meantime, Mayor Gary McCarthy said the police should evict the prostitutes.

“I don’t expect anyone to be inconvenienced or harassed by a criminal element. I expect the police to respond,” he said.

But Rodriguez wants a fence.

Since the city owns the land, he would have to get permission from the city to build a new fence that complies with the city code. He said he had no idea that tall stockade fences weren’t allowed.

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October 11, 2012
9:28 a.m.
nepcs says...

This lede is so much funnier if one were to imagine Norm MacDonald reading it aloud.

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