A Queens community is riding high after a court challenge delayed the sale of an old horse barn, but it's only a temporary victory if residents can't come up with the money to purchase the property from the owner. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
A horse barn is not something you would expect to see in the middle of a residential area, but the Western Riding Club in Flushing has been there for decades with little threat of redevelopment until now. The owner is looking to sell the property and residents say the buyer wants to turn it into a church and parking lot.
"This is about the last of country living in the city," said Carol DeMarco, a Queens resident.
"Everyone is rallying to save it. It's a piece of American history," said Joy Tirado of the Western Riding Club.
The barn has changed hands over the years but it was built back when the area was mostly farmland. Joy Tirado began renting and operating the barn in 2010, but she says the owner told her she had to close up shop in July because he was selling the property. The community and the Knights of Columbus banded together and raised the money to help her retain a lawyer.
"At this point everything is at a halt. I was supposed to be out of here over a month ago but I'm still in the fight," Tirado said.
Residents say the landlord has refused to meet with them. NY1's attempts to reach the elderly property owner were unsuccessful, but a few months ago he told the station it was just a business transaction and he would not comment any further.
But for the residents, especially the children who frequent the barn, the fight to keep it open is about a lot more than that. There are currently seven horses and Tirado keeps the private barn open to the public.
"When I first heard I almost broke down in tears because I love it here," said Andrew Laszlo, a Queens resident.
Many of the young children and their parents are trying to raise the money to help Tirado buy the property.
"We had a barbecue to raise money at the beginning of the summer and I know that there is some things on Facebook," said Susan Bondy, a parent and Queens resident.
"We're gonna try to get people to know about this place because this place is something special," said Nathalie Fargo, a Queens resident.
Tirado says it could be lost forever if she can't purchase the property.