By Mark Hallum
Three years after city snow plows destroyed the curb in front of All Saints Episcopal Church in Bayside, the Department of Transportation still has no plans to repair the damage, even after the intervention of a higher power — the neighborhood’s assemblyman.
During the series of blizzards in the winter of 2013–2014, snow plows from Department of Sanitation battered the curb by the church into gravel, grinding some sections down to little more than a sliver of rough concrete. All Saints, located at 214-33 40th St. reached out to state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D–Bayside), who spoke with DOT about repairing the curbs. The agency made him wait a year for a response.
“My office contacted the NYC Department of Transportation in 2014 regarding curbs that were damaged at All Saints Church by the Department of Sanitation,” Braunstein said. “On Feb. 13, 2015, DOT notified me that All Saints Church would be added to its ‘curb database for repair under a future curb repair contract.’ In light of the fact that the curbs were damaged by a city agency, DOT should commence with the repairs as soon as possible.”
But nearly two years after committing to fix the damage, the DOT has not yet scheduled repairs.
“NYC DOT is aware of the curb condition at this location, which has been added to the agency’s curb database for repair under a future curb repair contract when resources become available,” a DOT spokeswoman said.
Making matters worse, the city’s plows added insult to injury after the blizzard earlier this year.
After Father Larry Byrne of All Saints cleared the church’s sidewalks with a shovel and a snowblower three times on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, the plow trucks heaved the snow right back onto the walkway, heaped in piles three feet high as far as the walls of the building.
“We’re supposed to have the sidewalks clear, so when the Department of Sanitation comes and pushes all the snow back on cleared paths, it really seems like the city is working against itself here,” he said at the time. “I’m just concerned, this is now too much even for a snowblower to handle.”
According to former Community Board 11 member Jack Oshier, services were canceled that weekend for the first time in years because access to the building was blocked. Oshier is hoping for steel-faced curbs to protect them from the same thing happening again once repairs are finally made.
“The trucks use the curb as a guide, and it’s going to chop them up again,” Oshier said, adding how that the city should follow the lead of other cities and put curb finders on the ends of plow blades to prevent damage “But Father Byrne said he’s going to ring the bells as loud as he can [when the repairs are done].”
Nancy McCarthy, the office manager at All Saints, has kept a file on the efforts to remedy the issue. After filing a claim with the city comptroller’s office and making the rounds with DOT, she is convinced the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” approach will eventually pay off.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall