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Cracked: Pilot Program Replaces Damaged Sidewalks

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One area representative is urging homeowners to take advantage of a pilot program whereby the city will replace the sidewalk flags in front of their homes that have been damaged by the roots of street trees. At the May meeting of the Fraser Civic Association, which was held at Yeshiva Tiferes Yisroel, 1271 East 35th Street, City Councilmember Lewis Fidler told his listeners that now was the time to tap into the pilot program, which has limited funding. “At long last,” Fidler told his listeners, “there appears to be at least a partial solution to what I consider to be the age-old, quintessential Brooklyn problem – which is, what happens when our beautiful tree starts to uproot our necessary sidewalk. The sidewalk belongs to the city and the tree belongs to the city, but, guess who the bill belongs to? You. “I never thought that was fair,” Fidler went on, recalling that the first legislation he had introduced when he had entered the city council “dealt with that problem.” The legislation didn’t move anywhere, he noted. “What was really effective was when the mayor held a town hall meeting in Marine Park and almost got run out of the building by people with sidewalk violations in their hands.” As of now, said Fidler, the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, “Will repair those sidewalks at their own expense, for those parts of the sidewalk that have been damaged by your tree and only those parts of the sidewalk that have been damaged by your tree.” Fidler delivered the news with a couple of caveats. Stressing that the program is a pilot and that it has no established track record, he told the crowd, “First, make sure that it’s actually been damaged by your tree, because I don’t know how the system is going to work – it’s new – and if we bring them down to fix your sidewalk and they fix two flags and tell you the other four flags are your problem and give you a violation, just be careful. We don’t know what’s going to happen.” To set a repair in motion, said Fidler, “Call 311. They will give you a tracking number. Then, I am asking you to call my council office. We are going to make a compendium of all of these complaints from this community.” There is only $2 million, as of now, available for the pilot program, Fidler added. “That’s a spit in the bucket compared to the amount of sidewalks destroyed by tree roots,” he remarked. “I am going to recommend, during the budget process, that they put more money in.” But, in the meantime, Fidler made it clear that he wants to see that the communities of central Brooklyn benefit. “I want to make absolutely certain that since the stink over trees and sidewalks started here, that they come here and use the pilot program in this neighborhood first,” he stressed. “I want to bundle the complaints and say, let’s sweep through one neighborhood at a time, and let’s come to this community. “It doesn’t do me any good if they create this program to deal with a problem I’ve screamed about if they fix sidewalks in Bayside,” he added.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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