The city may be the worst landlord in town, if you let Middle Village residents tell it.
The Juniper Park Civic Association said that between the city Transportation and Sanitation departments, several city-owned sidewalks and pedestrian walkways have gone unshoveled.
The association’s president, Robert Holden, said pedestrians have had to navigate a treacherous stretch of 57th Avenue along the Long Island Expressway between 74th and 82nd streets.
On Feb. 18, he said an elderly woman fell near 57th Avenue and 74th Street while walking home from the supermarket. Neighbors helped her up and called an ambulance because she was bruised and scraped enough that they worried she may have a concussion, Holden said.
“Senior citizens are getting stir crazy. They’ve been cooped up all winter. The other day my mother tried to go out and she had to turn back twice because of the ice,” Holden said. “It’s disgraceful.”
Similarly, Holden said the city has neglected an Eliot Avenue sidewalk that crosses a railroad overpass near Lutheran Avenue. He said the snow has remained unshoveled all season, despite his highlighting the slippery walkway in several news outlets and making numerous complaints with 311.
The Department of Sanitation said the Department of Transportation was responsible for clearing the 57th Avenue stretch and said Sanitation’s staff had tackled the Eliot Avenue overpass. The department would not, however, specify whether it was charged with maintaining that walkway.
DOT did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.
The Juniper Park Civic Association said it had spent the past decade unsuccessfully urging the former Bloomberg administration to determine which city agencies were responsible for clearing snow and ice near railroad routes and the Long Island Expressway — and then to hold those agencies accountable.
Middle Village, Maspeth and Elmhurst have not fared much better so far under Mayor Bill de Blasio, according to Holden.
“If you or I don’t get shoveled, we get $100 summonses,” Holden said. “But the city can’t even shovel their own property.”
City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) has echoed the Juniper Park Civic Association’s charges of hypocrisy.
Koslowitz has reintroduced a city code amendment that would require the Sanitation commissioner to draft a storm cleanup plan within 24 hours of snow or ice hitting the ground.
Michael Cohen, Koslowitz’s legislative director, said that if approved the measure would effectively give the Council legislative oversight of bus stops and shelters, curb cuts and crosswalks. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said city Sanitation workers are tasked with clearing snow from bus stops.
“After this winter and the unusual amount of snow and ice, it’s very timely,” Cohen said.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@c
©2014 Community News Group
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