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City never shoveled many Maspeth walks: Civic

Sanitation officials reminded New Yorkers to shovel their sidewalks following the worst of the Dec. 26 snowstorm, but many Maspeth sidewalks in front of city property remained covered with a treacherous layer of ice even before the latest bout of winter weather this week, a civic leader said.

“In the middle of Maspeth, there are railroad areas that the city never shovels,” said Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association. The sidewalks in question run along railroad tracks or under city-owned overpasses and in front of city parks.

“If it was us, the mayor would give us fines, but this is his property,” he said.

Holden said that problem is nothing new. Last year, the civic group went to different unshoveled areas around the neighborhood and issued Mayor Michael Bloomberg symbolic summonses.

“You’re telling people to shovel their property, but you’re not doing it,” he said.

Holden said residents can download the symbolic summons form from the association’s website and send them to the mayor.

But a spokesman from the city Sanitation Department said the city did not issue any summonses following the post-Christmas blizzard and the department shovels sidewalks when workers are available.

“The department assists other city agencies in snow clearance from areas when we have available snow laborers,” he said.

But Holden said the icy sidewalks posed a real danger for residents and should take just as much priority as city streets.

“It’s a skating rink,” Holden said, referring to a pedestrian bridge he tried to cross in the neighborhood. “I’m not a senior yet, but I had trouble maneuvering.”

Holden said that as of Monday the stretches of sidewalk along both sides of 57th Avenue between 74th and 83rd streets — which abuts the Long Island Expressway and a railway track — had not been shoveled, forcing some students of IS 73, at 70-02 54th Ave., and PS 58, at 72-50 Grand Ave., to walk in the street.

And the longer the city waits, the harder the sidewalks become to shovel, Holden said. The snow melts and freezes again, which tempers it to a hard, crusty shell.

And after the city’s response to the second snowstorm Jan. 11, Holden said some of the city’s strongest should have picked up a shovel.

“I found it ironic that they are doing it overkill with these plows now that they are scraping the blacktop,” he said. “Why don’t they put a couple of guys on the city sidewalk?”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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