Thanks to a $1.1 million grant from Councilmember Eric Ulrich, 317 people are going to get brand new sidewalks for free.
The Trees and Sidewalks program, started in 2005 by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, repairs sidewalks throughout the city that have been damaged by overgrown tree roots. The Parks Department will be focusing its repair efforts on 317 sites throughout Ulrich’s district, thanks to the grant he provided.
Owners of one-, two- and three-family dwellings are eligible for repair assistance under the program. Homeowners can call 3-1-1 to request an inspection of sidewalk damage by a Parks Department forester.
In 2009 testimony before the city council, N.Y.C. Assistant Commissioner for Forestry and Horticulture Fiona Watts explained how sidewalk damage is assessed.
“Inspectors quantify the damage to the sidewalk at each site by rating the site according to a number of criteria. These criteria include vertical lift, number of damaged flagstones, the volume of pedestrian usage, passable sidewalk width, and the condition of the tree.”
Damage is graded from 1 to 100, with repairs slated for areas scoring over 60, “based on available funding.” Unfortunately, once funds are exhausted, homeowners can be left with sidewalks in a state that is equal parts headache and hazard.
“[Homeowners have] been waiting on a list for a number of years to get their sidewalks fixed through the program,” Ulrich explained. “In the meantime, it’s been a tripping hazard, it’s a liability for them and if they have to pay for it on their own, it could be $1,000 or more to repair.”
Thanks to the funding from Ulrich’s office, work has already begun at designated locations, which were all scored at 65 or higher or the Parks Department damage scale. Ulrich estimates that all repairs could be completed within eight weeks.