Local elected attempts to get to root of sidewalk damage problem

December 9, 2015 Anna Spivak
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With some homeowners having to wait years to get the sidewalks in front of their homes repaired after damage by tree roots, one local elected official has vowed to get to the root of the problem.

“The city is responsible for sidewalk repairs if the roots from a city-owned tree are damaging the sidewalk, but there are tremendous delays,” said Assemblymember Dov Hikind. “If you trim the city-owned tree in front of your house, the city will right away issue you a violation. But if the tree damages your sidewalk, you end up waiting a very long time until the city will make repairs. In the meantime, this is a dangerous situation.”

Indeed, not all homes with sidewalks damaged by tree roots will see repairs, even if they have been issued violations by the city’s Department of Transportation, which shares jurisdiction over the matter with the city’s Parks Department, which does the repairs.

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After Hikind raised the issue, Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey wrote him that “sites [to be repaired] are chosen based on a priority rating system.”

While, Jeffrey said, “work is completed at no cost to the property owner [in homeowner-occupied one, two and three-family homes],” he stressed that “funding is limited and Parks can only repair those sites with the most severe damage.”

Another concern raised by Hikind revolves around tree roots causing damage to sewer lines. However, Jeffrey responded that such a situation is “likely the result of preexisting leaks in the pipe themselves” and that “maintenance and repair of sewer systems is the responsibility of the property owner.”

According to Hikind, Jeffrey suggested that homeowners who have made repairs to their sidewalks or sewer lines that they feel have been impacted by roots from city-owned trees contact the city comptroller’s office within 90 days at 212-669-8750 or One Centre Street, Municipal Building, Room 530, New York, NY 10017.


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