By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Everyone loves a beautiful tree-lined street. But what happens when underground tree roots start to grow so large that they cause the sidewalk to buckle? The result is a major headache for homeowners, who have to fix the sidewalk.
Councilwoman Sara Gonzalez (D-Sunset Park-Red Hook) said she can help.
In one of her last acts as a lawmaker, Gonzalez, who was defeated in the Democratic Primary by Councilman-elect Carlos Menchaca in September and will leave office at the end of the year, has allocated $500,000 toward the costs of repairs of sidewalks in her council district damaged by trees.
“I am pleased to offer this relief for property owners as sidewalk repairs can be very costly. I really want people to know the procedure to access this funding I have put in place,” Gonzalez said.
Residents seeking to access funds to pay for repairs to their tree-damaged sidewalks should call 311, report the damage, and say they are calling from Council District 38, which can be verified by their address.
Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey announced the repair program at a press conference held on Nov. 22 in front of the 61st Street home of Hilda Valerio, a Sunset Park homeowner who has a sidewalk that was raised six inches by the roots of a tree. Joan Botti, the Parks Committee chairman of Community Board Seven, also attended the announcement.
The Parks Department has jurisdiction over trees on city sidewalks as well as trees in New York’s parks.
According to the Parks Department’s website, the agency does offer a program to assist homeowners with sidewalk repairs stemming from tree damage. But the funding for the program is limited.
In addition to his announcement of the sidewalk repair program, Jeffrey also praised Gonzalez, saying that she has provided millions of dollars in funding for Sunset Park and other parks in her district during in her 12 years as a council member. The parks improvements she has funded will serve residents for decades to come, he said.
Jeffrey and Gonzalez also announced that groundbreakings for a new wading pool and spray shower area in Sunset Park will take place soon. Gonzalez has allocated $1.2 million for the wading pool/spray showers, and another $2.4 million for the Sunset Park playground.
Both the wading pool and playground will be made handicap accessible. Gonzalez said that was a priority for her. “The designs I insisted on combine unique and fun themes while emphasizing safety for the children,” she said.
“I am so pleased to have been in a position where I could help enhance the future of this community’s namesake treasure and my favorite personal playground from my youth,” said the councilwoman, who was born and raised in the Sunset Park community.