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Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich said he has grown tired of seeing his community get kicked to the curb when asking the city to dig up the funding for street renovations.
For more than 15 years, the community leader said, he has been hitting the pavement with hopes of addressing an issue that has only gotten worse with time. The area’s lack of street-side curbs has led to an even worse pothole problem due to the deteriorating pavement throughout Glen Oaks, he said.
Throughout the community, long gaps between the sidewalk and road make for hazardous conditions, whether someone is leaving a parked car or stepping onto a sidewalk. And in inclement weather, Friedrich said the lack of adequate curbs has made it impossible for stormwater runoff to be disposed of properly, resulting in puddles and unsanitary conditions.
Friedrich said the problem was most noticeable where trees grew along the sidewalk and their roots grew out toward the street, resulting in gaps between sidewalks and bigger holes in the street.
“We have a lot of seniors here and have seen some injuries come from this issue,” Friedrich said. “It has become an untenable situation and that needs to change.”
The aging curbs throughout Glen Oaks have been a priority issue for Community Board 13, which oversees neighborhoods along the Nassau County border in northeast Queens. The area has not had any curb maintenance for more than 60 years, Friedrich said, when the sidewalks were installed.
Whenever he tried bringing his concerns to local government, Friedrich said he would be put in the middle of a finger-pointing match between the city Parks and Transportation departments over who had jurisdiction over street-side trees. He said the DOT refused to touch the trees because the Parks Department does not allow it to tamper with roots.
A spokesman for the DOT said workers will join with the community later this month for a meeting to address whether or not curbs could be installed in the future.
“It appears to me that the city is more concerned with the health and well-being of its trees than of its own residents,” Friedrich said. “It is unacceptable. These regulations make no sense.”
In some areas of town, Glen Oaks residents installed rubber tubing along the sidewalks to compensate, but Friedrich said they only worked for so long before being worn down by the outdoor elements.
Later this month, Friedrich will meet with City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), and the city Parks and Transportation departments to go over the curb areas that have worsened over time.
“The objective of this meeting will be to make sure Parks allows the DOT to replace curbs that have been destroyed by trees, which will necessitate either cutting off the roots or tree removal,” Friedrich said.
But that is not to say that Glen Oaks does not value its trees. According to Friedrich, the community is always the first to stand up and protect its more than 1,000 trees from overdevelopment and mistreatment.
“We love our trees,” Friedrich said. “But these regulations need to go.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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