• September 21, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

City faces tree root reality

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2019 10:30 am

The city is finally taking some responsibility for the damage its own property — street trees — causes to sidewalks.

We say “some responsibility” because the New York is notorious for taking its time repairing sidewalks even when it acknowledges the damage has been caused by trees it planted.

At least now, under a policy Mayor de Blasio and state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced Tuesday, homeowners won’t be getting tickets because street tree roots are lifting up and cracking the sidewalk slabs in front of their houses. It’s about time.

But “it’s about time” in another sense too. When will the city actually repair the sidewalks where it acknowledges the trees it owns and maintains caused the damage? Comptroller Scott Stringer found it takes an average of 419 days for repairs to begin after a complaint is filed. One Queens resident, Bayside Hills Civic Association President Michael Feiner, said it took five and a half years for the city to repair the tree-damaged sidewalk in front of his house — three years to acknowledge responsibility and another two and a half to get around to actually doing the work.

De Blasio says repairs will be sped up. We can only hope so. Maybe this week’s announcement is even a sign he’s branching out from fruitless campaigning and getting to the roots of governance.

Welcome to the discussion.