By JOHN T. WARD
The house at 90 Bank Street in Red Bank has been vexing neighbors for years.
It’s surrounded on three sides by a massing of cars, trucks and hard-to-discern clutter. The porch, with collapsing rain gutters, appears to groan under the weight of piled boxes. And the mess continues in the street out front, where neighbors say rusting vehicles have sat for years.
William and Teresa Poku own the property, according to Red Bank and Monmouth County records.
Last Wednesday, neighbor and Republican council candidate Allison Gregory complained to the borough council about the property.
As the audience looked on, Gregory walked along the dais, sharing a photo on her cellphone with each member of the governing body. The photo showed one of her daughters standing beside a flatbed trailer on which sat a board with upward-pointing nails driven into it.
“My kids pass by there all the time, there’s a school bus stops on the corner, so we need to know why this guy still has his junk on a public street,” Gregory said.
Gregory said her husband, Mark, had emailed borough officials about the danger last November, but hadn’t gotten a response.
In response to a question by Mayor Pasquale Menna about whether the vehicle gets moved, Gregory said, “he does not move it. It sits there all day, every day.
“He should not be allowed to have an endless amount of junk in his front yard,” Gregory continued.
The town is involved in litigation with William Poku, said borough Attorney Greg Cannon.
“There’s a federal lawsuit, there’s a tax court lawsuit, there’s all sorts of lawsuits,” Cannon said. “It’s a mess.”
In fact, the court battles have gone on for years, often in the form of appeals filed by Poku when the borough has won a favorable ruling.
“He doesn’t listen to us,” Cannon said.
Attempts by redbankgreen to reach Poku for comment starting last Thursday have been unsuccessful.
redbankgreen was unable to obtain a list of active litigation involving the Poku and the borough last week.
Poku, an officer of the Greater Red Bank NAACP, had spoken to the council earlier in last Wednesday night’s meeting about affordable housing issues. redbankgreen was unable to learn if he was still present when Gregory spoke.
Other neighbors told redbankgreen they were reluctant to speak about the property condition, citing Poku’s history of lawsuits.
After one of Poku’s vehicles was towed in January, 2006 as unregistered — an allegation Poku disputed — he sued two municipal judges, the police chief, a police officer and the towing company.
Among the cop’s illegal purposes, Poku alleged, was “to cause general fear and apprehension in the black community.”
Poku took the matter to the United States Supreme Court, which declined to hear it in 2012.
In May, 2017, Poku filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in which he claimed that a “sham” municipal court case caused him to suffer “severe anxiety causing me to visit my doctor.”
In August, 2016, Poku told redbankgreen that its questions about the conditions on his property were motivated by racial prejudice.