Thousands of New Yorkers have been complaining to politicians and through the NYC 311 system about tree roots lifting up sidewalks. Over the last 15 years Assemblyman Dov Hikind has been trying to get the city to expedite and fix sidewalks damaged by tree roots.
In 2015 Hikind sent out a press release and wrote, “The city is responsible for sidewalk repairs if the roots from a city-owned tree are damaging the sidewalk, but there are tremendous delays. If you trim the city-owned tree in front of your house, the city will right away issue you a violation. But if the tree damages your sidewalk, you end up waiting a very long time until the city will make repairs. In the meantime, this is a dangerous situation.”
Homeowners who do spend money to clean their sewer lines or repair their sidewalks may be eligible for reimbursement. To file a claim residents must file an official complaint to the NYC Comptroller’s office by calling 212-669-8750.
On May 16th 2017 NYC Mayor de Blasio participated in a Brooklyn town hall meeting. One of the issues that was raised to the Mayor was about pruning,inspecting trees and fixing sidewalks that are cracked and or ruined due to the tree roots. The Parks dept commissioner Marty Maher told the crowd that under the Bloomberg administration the average waiting time for pruning cycle was 14 years and under the De Blasio administration the average waiting time is now 7 years for the city to repair and or fix tree related issues that the city is responsible for. Is 7 years something to be proud of? Don’t tax payers of New York deserve better? Pedestrians never tripped on a sidewalk because a tree hasn’t been pruned.
Making matters worse is when the city is cracking sidewalks while preparing space for a new tree.
In June of 2016 Brooklyn resident Mrs. Perlstein received a $15,000 fine for having damaged sidewalks. Mrs. Perlstein told gifteringotham media she complained to Councilman Greenfield, Assemblyman Hikind and called city agencies but nobody has taken any concrete action.
Mrs. Perlstein attended the Mayor de Blasio Brooklyn town hall meeting and said she couldn’t get her questions addressed to the Mayor but spoke to NYC councilman David Greenfield after the meeting about her $15,000 bill for cracked sidewalks.
Gifteringotham media spoke to dozens of Brooklyn residents with claims of sidewalk tree root issues. One resident said he has been logging complaints to 311 for over 5 years and cases get closed while some are still open complaints. NYC park department recently responded to the latest complaint.
“The Department of Parks and Recreation inspected the requested repair site. The timeframe for repair work depends on available funding for the program, the severity of damage, and the other sidewalk requests in the surrounding district. For more information, refer to the information sheet that you received from the agency.
You have been enrolled in the Trees and Sidewalks Program, and current status is pending. Sidewalk repairs can take a number of years as repairs are made in order of priority. Your priority rating out of 100 points is 75.”
It’s apparent that the park dept. can take another “couple of years” based on the response from the City of New York. The millions of dollars in lawsuits against the city of New York with trip and falls for sidewalks that the city is responsible for can be avoided for a $650.00 average repair by private contractors.
On April 24, 2017 CBS2 News did a scathing report on the NYC parks department handling of cracked sidewalks due to city owned trees.
In 2009, FOX 5 NY did an exclusive report and investigation on tree roots ruining sidewalks and about a group of angry homeowners in Queens that were told by NYC parks department that a stump that destroyed their sidewalk would take three to five years to fix.
In 2013 NYS assemblyman Micheal DenDekker held a press conference in Queens and said the city is responsible for cracked sidewalks due to tree roots. Dendekker said, “The city legally considers sidewalks to be city property, much to the dismay of one resident who spent $7,000 to fix his sidewalk, only to have the Parks Department rip up several sections to plant new trees.”
“We want this administration to admit there’s a problem,” DenDekker added.
He also pointed out that 885 claims, totaling $60 million, were paid out by the city between January 2013 and November 2014. The average claim was $67,000, but the largest was $2.5 million. These were for cases where the homeowner had not received a violation so the city was held responsible for the tree damage.
“Why a lawyer hasn’t done a class action lawsuit is so surprising to me,” DenDekker added.
The city is quick to fine homeowners that are responsible for cracked sidewalks but when it’s the city’s obligation it’s a whole different story.
We reached out to Councilman’s Greenfield office and were told, “he will look into the matter.”
If you have similar complaints about the parks department please comment below or email [email protected]