By Mark Hallum
City Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) and state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows) called for the passage of a bill which would provide a tax credit to make up for the financial burden placed on homeowners for sidewalk and curb repairs.
The two lawmakers stood in front of the home of Paul Krasanoff in Hollis Hills last Friday to point out an example of a curb which had been destroyed by a snowplow and where rainfall has started to erode the family’s lawn. The Krasanoffs have been without a curb for years, and the bill crafted by Weprin and supported in the City Council by Grodenchik will help homeowners pay for repairs themselves when the city lacks resources to respond to damaged curbs.
“The city of New york is legally responsible for the repair of the curbs. The problem is people often complain about curbs and the city often sits on it for weeks, months or even years,” said Weprin, whose bill would require the homeowner to report the curb damage to 911 for starters. The city “would be mandated under my legislation to repair that curb within 90 days … and if the city does not repair it within 90 days, the homeowner can then hire a licensed contractor who can repair the curb and would get a credit on their property taxes to reduce the amount by the cost of the curb repair,” he said.
Homeowners are legally obligated to repair damaged sidewalks in front of and adjacent to their homes, but the current law does not extend to curbs, which when damaged can cause deterioration of sidewalks, according to Weprin.
Grodenchik said the legislation would need to go through the state before the city Department of Transportation could implement this program because the city does not have the authority to change tax law.
“Homeowners are responsible and we know if they don’t get the job done on a sidewalk, then the city is on them. We’re here to say that if the city can’t police itself better and if it can’t get it done, then allow the homeowners to engage a reputable and licensed contractor who would, of course, have to pull permits from the Department of Transportation. But this would make our streets safer,” Grodenchik said. “Every time it rains, a little bit of their lawn washes down the street and you can see the curbs are non-existent in many places. The other thing it would do is put a lot of people to work.”
Paul and Arlene Krasanoff have been living at their home near Bell Boulevard and Union Turnpike for 48 years and said the street has been repaved more than five times, but the curbs have never been maintained. Jagged remnants of the concrete, damaged by a city snowplow around 2011, remain in a haphazard row along the lawn of the house.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall