An 89-year-old Fresh Meadows woman is seeking remediation from the city after she was billed more than $2,000 for sidewalk repairs she was told she would not have to pay for.
“I save penny by penny. That was money that I was saving all year long,” said Anna Gallotta, who has lived in her 198th Street corner home for six decades. “My bills come before my food.”
Gallotta was told in November 2005 to fix 350 square feet of sidewalk, according to a notice of violation by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Four slabs were marked defective as trip hazards, the notice showed, and eight were considered broken.
But Gallotta, who pointed to a nearby city tree as the root of the problem, said she had previously filed a report to 3-1-1 and was told the city would pay for the correction. Otherwise, the senior said, she would have called on friends to repair only what needed to be fixed and not the rest of the sidewalk, which she said was in good condition.
Instead, the now-retired city school crossing guard said she came home from work to find her entire sidewalk under construction.
“They didn’t tell me. I came out and saw. I didn’t know what was going on,” she said.
According to records, Gallotta was only charged for 265.02 square feet of the total 966.49 the DOT replaced. Still, it came to $2,266.96, which she paid to the Department of Finance in March 2010.
Gallotta, who is diabetic and relies on Social Security funds, said the colossal costs have been a huge financial burden on her and her family.
“I get too upset every time I touch these papers,” Gallotta said, while scouring through piles of saved paperwork. “I was always told not to fight the city. You never win.”
The DOT and the city comptroller’s office did not return calls for comment in time for press.
“In New York City now, if you sneeze, you get a ticket,” Gallotta said. “I tried my best.”
A Courier cover story detailed a similar case in March of another Fresh Meadows homeowner who said he was bilked by the city in 2009 for over $2,000. He was reimbursed more than half the cost this month.