“I have been calling and calling the city for years,” said Caroline Vereline, a Bellerose resident. “One time they told me they were 23 years behind schedule.”
State Sen. Tony Avella stood with frustrated homeowners at a news conference on Friday to highlight their plight. He said when city Department of Transportation inspectors respond to complaints, they often hit homeowners with an unwelcome surprise — violations for cracked sidewalks on their own property.
“I have been told by the city that if an inspector goes out there, they will also inspect sidewalks and issue violations if necessary,” said Avella (D-Bayside). “I consider that extortion.”
While the city is responsible for maintaining curbs and street trees, homeowners are charged with maintaining sidewalks in front of their property.
Agency officials said they set aside $20 million a year for repairs to sidewalks and curbs.
“While requests to address curb conditions outpaces available resources, DOT’s contractor works to make curb repairs as efficiently as it can by rotating through community boards citywide,” Transportation Department officials said in a statement. “The agency will look to address this location when the contractor is next in the area.”
Vereline said she has never seen the curbs repaired on her block the entire 54 years she has lived in the house.
She said the problem is not one of aesthetics. Cracked and missing sidewalks can lead to flooding in driveways and lawns, residents griped.
“Over the years, I’ve had people ringing my doorbell to complain about the curbs in front of my home,” said Louis Marino, a Glen Oaks resident.
People told Marino the disintegrated curbs caused them to trip and fall when they tried to exit their cars.
“I have called 311 and gotten complaint numbers and nothing has ever happened,” he said. “And before there was 311, I used to write the DOT.”
Avella said the city should focus its resources on fixing basic infrastructure such as curbs instead of spending money on increasing the number of bike lanes in the five boroughs.
“This is not a sexy issue,” said Avella. “But it’s an important quality-of-life issue that keeps getting put on the back burner.”