Today’s news:

Baysider wins DOT sidewalk showdown

A Bayside resident said the city attempted to force him to pay to put in a sidewalk in front of his home on 39th Avenue that could have cost as much as $10,000.

John Fox, who has lived on 39th Avenue at 222nd Street near the dead end at the Cross Island Parkway since October, said he received a violation in December from the city’s Department of Transportation for not having a sidewalk in front of his house.

The DOT then told him he either had to pay to have a sidewalk built or the city would undertake the project and bill him later. Fox said he was given estimates that the project could have cost him between $6,000 to $10,000.

City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) intervened earlier this year, so Fox now does not have to pay for a new sidewalk. But the Bayside resident said the city would have charged him had he not contacted the councilman.

“None of my neighbors have sidewalks,” said Fox, who works for the federal government. “If I did, it would be the bridge to nowhere. There’s a tree on one side and shrubs on another. There are two houses that were built in the last two years on either side of me that were not required to have sidewalks. My house was built in the 1920s.”

Fox said he came home one day in December and there were DOT cars parked on the street. Later that day, he found a violation in his mailbox for not having a sidewalk in front of his property.

He then contacted the city.

“I kept getting the run-around,” he said. “I told them I don’t have a sidewalk and they said that was impossible.”

He was quoted $8.21 per square foot for 750 square feet of sidewalk. But the price estimate from the DOT did not include landscaping, excavating or building a retaining wall, he said.

The city eventually sent out another inspector to look at his property. The department relented and decided not to fine him after Halloran got involved.

“They wanted him to create sidewalks where no sidewalks ever existed,” the councilman said. “The city did not want to incur the costs, but this homeowner wasn’t in a position to financially do that. It seemed very arbitrary and capricious to me that they would impose this on him. I guess they picked him because he has the corner property.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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