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Exclusive: The Battle Over The ‘Sidewalk To Nowhere’

Has New York City Lost Its Mind? One Queens Family Thinks So
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Queens 'Sidewalk to Nowhere;

New York City is demanding Gretchen Brent of Queens install and pay for a sidewalk that would lead nowhere. Not one other resident on her street has been asked to do this and now a city councilman has jumped in on her side. (Photo: CBS 2)

Marcia Kramer thumbnail Marcia Kramer
Marcia Kramer joined CBS 2 in 1990 as an investigative and political...
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a story of government bureaucracy that may be out of control.

New York City wants a Queens homeowner to install a sidewalk on a block where other sidewalks don’t exist — and foot the bill, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer has learned exclusively.

Even in a city where officials sometimes make curious decisions, the Department of Transportation’s campaign against Whitestone resident Gretchen Brent and her husband is an A-No. 1 head-scratcher and she has a question for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“Why did you pick on me for the violation? I just don’t get it. I just don’t get it,” Brent said.

The Brents got a ticket for not having a sidewalk on one side of their corner lot — a place that has been a swath of grass since the house was built in 1918. None of the other houses on either side of that Seventh Avenue block have sidewalks, so the Brent’s sidewalk would go nowhere – and they’d have pay for it.

“I’d say $7,000 to $8,000 I would say,” Gretchen said. “Isn’t it crazy?”

None of the other Seventh Avenue residents got tickets and if they did there might be unwanted consequences.

If the DOT decided to make everyone in the neighborhood put in a sidewalk then many trees in the neighborhood would have to be cut down, something that makes little sense in a city where the mayor is trying to green every acre.

“Harry,” one of the Brent’s neighbors, would have to cut down a veritable forest.

“There’s a lot of ugly things going on,” Harry said. “Don’t uproot our trees Mr. Mayor.”

So Kramer went on a mission to speak with City Councilman Daniel Halloran to ask if any of this makes sense.

“It doesn’t make sense and again it’s another slap in the face of these homeowners in the outer boroughs. You know Manhattan is a concrete jungle. They’re trying to do that to a neighborhood that in many senses is a pristine tree-lined neighborhood,” Halloran said.

The DOT made no apologies, saying it was investigating a complaint of a broken city curb on the other side of the Brent’s house, saw the grassy side and didn’t hesitate to issue the ticket.

Councilman Halloran said he is trying to get the DOT to see that green space is good.

Do you think this is sheer lunacy on the part of the City? Or should the Brents just be quiet and follow the law? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.


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