By Tien-Shun Lee
City Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) recently introduced legislation to mandate that the city Department of Sanitation take responsibility for maintaining a 575-foot-long strip of sidewalk along Main Street in Briarwood that has been notoriously overgrown with weeds and covered with snow and ice in the past.
The walkway, located between two grassy strips next to a retaining wall, is now legally within the lot boundaries of several homeowners along Pershing Crescent. However, because Pershing Crescent is located at the same level as the top of the retaining wall, about 15 feet above the walkway, Gennaro said it was unfair to ask the homeowners to care for the walkway property.
“It is completely unrealistic and unreasonable to ask the homeowners to care for this property unless they chose to rappel down the 15-foot wall to get to the sidewalk,” said Gennaro.
Calling the walkway the “gateway to the Briarwood community, ” Gennaro said the path along Main Street between Manton Road and 84th Drive is a major pedestrian passageway that connects Briarwood residents with the buses, subways and shopping areas along Queens Boulevard.
Over the past year, the Departments of Parks, Sanitation and Transportation have all pitched in to maintain the walkway at Gennaro's request. But no city agency is legally obligated to maintain the property, and in the past the property had been left abandoned for many years.
“Residents should not have to traverse the most treacherous of conditions to access the subway or go shopping,” said Gennaro. “It's a major quality of life issue that must and will be addressed.”
With the passage of Gennaro's new bill, called Intro. 390, the Department of Sanitation would be responsible for maintaining any sidewalks that abut a retaining wall that is at least 10 feet high and 350 feet in length.
Al Gasparo, a Briarwood resident, collected more than 600 signatures in November from local residents who said they were looking for assistance in taking care of the 55-year-old retaining wall and the walkway next to it.
“This walkway has been grossly neglected over the years and is in urgent need of upkeep and maintenance,” said Gasparo.
Both Gasparo and Seymour Schwartz, the president of the Briarwood Community Association, said they hoped Gennaro's bill would pass so that the walkway would be taken care of in the future.
Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com, or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.