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Brooklyn Tire Shop Owner: City Is Making Me Pay For Sidewalk I Didn’t Break

Louis Gellman Has Been Hit With A $30,000 Bill

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn business owner has been forced by the city to cough up $30,000 to have his sidewalk repaired, but he says it is the city’s fault that the sidewalk is broken.

As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported Tuesday, Louis Gellman is the owner of the Hilna Tire Shop in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. His shop sits alongside the elevated subway tracks of the D Line.

“The vibrations now are so loud, it’s like a jackhammer — and it’s cracking up the sidewalk,” Gellman said.

As any other property owner in the city, Gellman is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk outside. And now, he said he has been asked to pay for damage he did not cause.

“Thirty thousand dollars to replace a sidewalk that I didn’t break,” he said.

Gellman showed CBS 2 pictures, which he said show city contractors parked on his sidewalk. He said their machinery, as well as broken pieces of rail that have fallen to the ground, and the sonic vibrations from the trains through the support poles all contributed to the $200,000 square-foot slab of concrete in front of the tire shop.

“The vibrations for the train is at 100 decibel points,” Gellman said.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said by their account, the noise registers at 65 decibels – below the city threshold. But CBS 2’s own sound meter displayed readings well above 90 decibels.

A day after CBS 2’s initial visit, a city contractor was already out preparing the sidewalk for replacement. The Department of Transportation defended the action, saying, “Since the defective conditions in this case have not been repaired, this property is eligible for construction by the city and the property owner will be billed the cost.”

Some nearby homeowners, such as Joe Como, said Gellman should have to pay

“One hundred percent,” Como said. “It has nothing to do with the trains.”

But Gellman said he feels like he is being hosed by the city after 35 years on the block.

“It looks like a done deal,” he said. “Another middle class guy being screwed by the mayor of New York.”

If Gellman does not reimburse the city for the $30,000 cost of replacing the sidewalk, a lien will be placed against his property.

Gellman said he has filed a claim with the MTA, challenging the sidewalk replacement.

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