Free Sidewalk Repair For NYC Homeowners

Fix Cracked Sidewalks in Sheepshead Bay

Last month we told you about Belt Parkway overpass renovations  and other construction work in Sheepshead Bay being done as part of the Stimulus Transportation Projects. But we didn’t mention one ongoing project that’s also getting a nice heap of financial support: citywide sidewalk repair for homeowners.

The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation initiative, called the Trees & Sidewalks pilot program, has received $3.7 million in federal funding, giving a nice boost to the $1 million the city already budgeted for the project for 2010.

Through the little-known program, Parks helps homeowners by repairing sidewalks that have been damaged by curbside trees throughout the city. One-, two-, and three family homes occupied by the owner are eligible for this program, which covers all repair fees.

“Damaged sidewalks cause inconvenience and safety concerns for property owners, who are responsible for the condition of their sidewalks,” states the initiative’s blurb. “The sidewalk repairs, done at no cost to the homeowner, will maximize the strength and durability of the sidewalks, while minimizing the damage to tree roots.”

Since the program launched in March 2005, Parks has spent approximately $12 million to repair 4,703 sidewalk sites.

To make a request, residents need to call 311 to schedule an inspection. Within 30 days, a Parks Department forester will come to evaluate the site. 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. Ratings are then tallied up, and a score of more than 60 (out of 100) will be considered for repair based on available funding.

To date, 12,572 site inspection requests (58% of total requests) have received a score of 60 points or higher.

It should be noted that, though more than 12,500 sites meet the criteria for funding, less than 5,000 have actually been repaired due to funding shortages.

Still, Sheepshead residents with damaged sidewalks should apply, as qualifying applicants are wait-listed according to severity, and the addition of federal funds ought to help cut down the wait time.