NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Across the city, timeliness is not of the essence when it comes damaged sidewalks.
A new audit done by the city’s comptroller is highlighting how slow the Parks Department is taking to check and repair sidewalk issues, reports CBS2’s Valerie Castro.
For some, their 419-day wait continues.
“They really don’t wanna do nothing. The city don’t do nothing,” said Jose Ortiz of Bushwick.
For three years, he says he has complained about a tree that unsafely uprooted the sidewalk, but no inspector has ever checked it out.
“We can’t maintain the houses and maintain the city property at the same time,” he said.
Ortiz isn’t the only New Yorker dealing with this problem.
New York City comptroller Scott Stringer released a new audit on Monday showing homeowners waited on average 101 days after submitting a service request to have their tree-damaged sidewalks inspected – and 419 days for a repair.
The longest time for a repair took more than 11 years.
Highlights From Comptroller Stringer’s Audit on NYC Parks’ Trees and Sidewalks Program
- NYC Parks repaired 1,069 sidewalks during Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) for which the average duration from inspection to repair was 419 days, with the longest time for repair taking more than 11 years.
- 449 NYC Parks-approved work orders for sidewalk repairs, each at a unique address, had remained open for an average of 523 days (1.43 years) as of December 31, 2017, with the oldest having been open for 2,166 days (5.93 years).
- According to NYC Parks officials, the agency has no target time frame for how long it should take to repair a sidewalk once it is inspected and found to qualify for repair under the agency’s priority-rating system.
- During FY16 and FY17, NYC Parks received 16,558 service requests for tree-damaged sidewalks at 13,373 unique addresses and inspected only 27 percent of them within the agency’s own, internal, 30-day target.
- New Yorkers submitting requests for an inspection had to wait an average of 101 days after submitting the request to have the inspection.
- No inspection record was generated for 1,527 service requests at 1,509 unique addresses that NYC Parks closed, consisting of 475 cases that the agency appears to have found eligible for repairs, 909 cases that the agency appears to have found ineligible, and 143 cases, at 141 unique addresses, where the agency’s records lacked sufficient information to show how and why the service requests were closed and whether the customers’ requests had been addressed.
“The sidewalks are terrible,” said Annie Mehlman of Bushwick. “They’re all beaten up.”
“You can’t walk 10, 20 feet without either tripping or almost tripping,” said John Pfeiffer.
While this Ozone Park man says he’s called the city for the last five years about tree-damaged sidewalks, his neighbor had to take matters into his own hands, paying to patch up his sidewalk. He couldn’t wait any longer for an inspector.
“The city hasn’t come out here for years,” said Deo Gossai.
The city’s parks department says property owners are responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalks. But residents say half the time they don’t know who is to blame.
“The problem is, is that nobody can figure out who’s property it belongs to,” said Elaine Torres of Ozone Park. “Is it the home owners, or is it the city’s? So while they’re trying to figure that out, nothing gets fixed.”
The Parks Department says the audit findings represent a fundamental misconception of the Trees and Sidewalks Program’s mission, since they rank priority based on safety factors.