Tucked away in a remote corner of Queens, the property is “almost out in the country.” It sits right next to a state-owned reserve that will never be developed.
The Douglaston Long Island Railroad station is two blocks away. Manhattan is just 30 minutes on the train, and the area is also accessible to local bridges.
“You couldn’t have anything more,” Cella said. “It was a quiet street, a dead end of a dead end.”
That was 1991. Today, Cella still lives in that tudor house he fell in love with, but something is different. A decade after he purchased his home, the city auctioned off the road right by his house, Stuart Lane.
Since then, the city hasn’t provided essential services for residents of that block, such as garbage pickups and plowing the road when it snows. Luckily, he lives at the corner of Depew Avenue, a city-owned block, so he is the only house that gets services.
Cella has contacted the city for years, asking for the road to be purchased, to no avail.
“This is an ongoing thing,” he said. “I have a stack of letters we’ve sent out.”
He has even sued the city a few times after sanitation workers took down fences and ripped up his lawn.
“Unfortunately, when you sue the city, you only get 90 percent, no matter if it’s 100 percent their fault,” Cella said.
But he and his neighbors won’t quit trying to convince the city that they have a responsibility for their residents.
“We just can’t let it keep going like this,” Cella said. “We’re going to have to force their hand.”