An abandoned college on Long Island is falling apart, and neighbors say it is putting their community in danger.
Dowling College in Oakdale has been closed for five years, but some residents who live in the area say that it's still buzzing with activity — just not the kind they want to see. And they're hoping they can have something done about it.
An unofficial neighborhood watch group every night walks the vacated grounds of the 25-acre property, which for 50 years was home to the private college that was home to the Golden Lions. What they see on their patrols is disturbing, according to the group's leader Thomas Alfano.
"Heroin use, drug use, just blatant acts of vandalism" he said. Other parts of the former school's buildings can be seen falling apart in disrepair, making it a danger for anyone who comes to the private property.
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The community members told NBC New York that pleas to maintain the property — and protect its centerpiece, the historic Vanderbilt mansion known as Idle Hour — have gone ignored.
"People are concerned. That's why we're all here," said Al Reinhardt. "We don't like it. We live here, we want this mansion to be preserved."
Despite the size of the property and the abandoned buildings, residents say the owner, Mercury International, provides no security — making it an inviting but dangerous destination for area kids. Local teen Charlotte Desimone has written to area lawmakers asking for help in stopping the vandalism.
"It's very slowly being destroyed. All these adolescents are coming in, young people my own age, and destroying the property," Desimone said.
The town of Islip said it has issued the property owner dozens of summonses, and may order a town cleanup next month. A town spokesperson said that they are "doing everything in our authority to hold the property owner accountable."
Despite that, town residents believe more needs to be done before it's too late.
"People care," said Alfano. "This is the heartbeat of our community."
The property's future remains unclear. A spokesperson for China-based company that owns it offered no comment on Wednesday.