2005-04-07 / Top Stories

City Announces Tree-Damaged Sidewalk Repair Program

City Announces Tree-Damaged Sidewalk Repair Program

City promises to repair damaged sidewalks caused by tree roots like this one on East 99th Street free of charge. Charles RogersCity promises to repair damaged sidewalks caused by tree roots like this one on East 99th Street free of charge. Charles Rogers Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe last week announced the Trees & Sidewalks Repair Program - an initiative that will enable Parks Depart-ment to fix sidewalks damaged by the roots of street trees in every borough, at no cost to the homeowner.

The $3.4 million initiative was developed with the help of the Depart-ment of Transportation (DOT) and is funded by the mayor and borough presidents of the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. As many as 2,000 damaged sidewalks are slated to be repaired in the first year of the program.

"Street trees make a neighborhood alive and vibrant, but unfortunately, they can also damage its sidewalks leaving them unsightly and hazardous," said the mayor. "Up until now, the cost to repair this damage has been borne by the home-owner, and can reach as much as $1,000 per tree. The new Trees & Sidewalks Repair Program will relieve the financial burden of homeowners who are trying to keep their sidewalks safe and beautiful. I want to thank Borough Pre-sidents Marshall, Molinaro and Carrion for their support of this project, and urge all New Yorkers who have sidewalks damaged by street trees to call 311."

"Street trees provide innumerable benefits to the economy, health, and aesthetics of New York City," said Commissioner Benepe. "This initiative will enable us to more efficiently care for our urban canopy while lessening the burden of tree/sidewalk repairs on individual New Yorkers."

Every year, Parks & Recreation receives 2,500 requests for sidewalk inspection and generates close to 3,000 work orders for tree root pruning and the accompanying sidewalk repair. Prior to the Trees and Sidewalks Repair Program, when a street tree damaged a homeowner's sidewalk, the homeowner would have to hire a private contractor to open up the sidewalk on a date scheduled by Parks & Recreation. After repairs to the tree's root system were completed, the homeowner would have to arrange for a private contractor to repair the sidewalk. All expenses had to be covered by the homeowner, and could be as much as $1,000.

In the new pilot program, the city will take full responsibility for all repairs to the root system of the tree and the sidewalk. Instead of hiring a contractor and scheduling a Parks & Recreation For-estry crew to evaluate the roots, homeowners will now only need to make one call to 311. Parks & Recreation will then inspect, design, and construct a sidewalk solution around the tree in front of their home. The program will be targeted to the owners of 1-2-3 residential (tax class 1) properties. Home-owners in all neighborhoods will be able to benefit from the new program, as every Community Board will have some funds allocated to address tree and sidewalk repairs.

Repairs will be prioritized according to severity of sidewalk damage, what percentage of the sidewalk is impacted by the damage, and whether the sidewalk is in a high-traffic area.

Sidewalks will be repaired in one of three ways: increasing growing space for tree, ramping sidewalk over roots or increasing the strength of the sidewalk. Constituents interested in taking ad-vantage of the pilot program can call 311 and ask for the Trees & Sidewalks Repair Program.

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