The saga of City Hall vs. the Star Five Oil Company may have reached a turning point.
City officials said this week that an abatement order is in effect, preventing the company from parking heavy duty vehicles on its property, located at the corner of Bowdoin Street and Geneva Avenue and long considered an eyesore by local residents.
The abatement order was hand-delivered to one of the owners of the company, Michael Gargano, in December. It ordered the company to remove the vehicles, including an oil truck and an 18-wheeler, that were stored illegally on the property and called a fire hazard.
Last Thursday night, city officials saw that the 18-wheeler had returned. It was ticketed and towed, and the company was hit with $800 in fines, according to Darryl Smith, an assistant commissioner with the city’s Inspectional Services Department.
“I don’t think you’re going to see them come back,” he said Tuesday as a group of officials from various city agencies and several university students who are focused on urban planning took a walk-through of the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood.
The heavy-duty vehicles at the Star Five Oil site, located at 303 Geneva Ave., have been a headache to community members and city officials, who have frequently fought over the parking situation there. The dispute has a long history, extending back some dozen years. The company originally had a permit to park two vehicles there, but when that expired, its request for a zoning variance to park trucks was denied. At one point, the issue headed to housing court.
The company did not immediately respond yesterday to a request for comment on the latest activity. In a 2008 Reporter article, co-owner James Patterson said the business has kept the neighborhood quieter and largely crime-free. “We’ve been in the neighborhood a long time,” he said. “We employ a lot of the kids and keep them out of trouble. They look up to us as role models. We keep this area clean.”
Davida Andelman, a local activist, said she appreciated Smith and his department’s work on the issue. But, she added, she’ll reserve comment about a resolution when she doesn’t see large vehicles parked in the lot. She noted that she had seen a truck parked on the lot last Thursday, before ISD officials had it towed. “We’ll have to wait and see,” she said.
The problem of 18-wheelers and trucks at the oil company was one of several issues a “neighborhood response team” for Bowdoin-Geneva, formed in November, is faced with. Made up largely of city officials from Inspectional Services, Department of Neighborhood Development, the Boston Police Department, and others, the group meets several times a month for meetings and a walk-through of the neighborhood. They handle issues ranging from street lighting to foreclosed homes that have fallen into disrepair.
On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, about 20 people left the Bowdoin-Geneva health center, walked down towards the Star Five Oil Company site and then up Levant St., eventually making their way to the dilapidated brownstones and an overgrown garden on Coleman Street. “Once you bring all the agencies together, you’re able to see other methods of enforcement that you can use as a team,” Smith said, as agency officials took notes and snapped pictures of some of the buildings.
CORRECTION: The Star Five Oil company site is located at 303 Geneva Ave. An earlier version of this article had the incorrect street number for the location.