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Newspaper ink helps mend sidewalk

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“It’s a miracle.”

Those three words — uttered by Flatlands resident Sue McCormack — said it all, after the city repaved a portion of sidewalk adjacent to a vacant lot that had presented a danger to members of the community for years.

The repair of the sidewalk along Flatlands Avenue, between Troy Avenue and Avenue L, came just weeks after this newspaper ran a story highlighting the sorry state of the strip and the lot it adjoins.

“I’m thrilled that, with your help, they actually did the sidewalk,” McCormack told this paper. “It is a major thing. It’s all level now, so you can actually walk there without killing yourself, and it looks really nice.”

While the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) will replace damaged sidewalks and bill the property owner, that agency said at the time an inquiry was made by this newspaper that it will not usually do that adjacent to a vacant lot, because of concern that future construction at the site would mean that the new sidewalk would be ripped out and replaced.

The repair was done not by DOT but by the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation, according to Montgomery Dean, a DOT spokesperson, because an adjacent street tree had pushed up the pavement.

Trish Bertuccio, a spokesperson for the Parks Department, confirmed that the work had been performed by the agency. It had previously been “slated for repairs,” she said, “but we had some funding issues so we had to postpone it till this year.”

The new concrete was poured on July 30th, Bertuccio said.

The story that ran in the July 2nd issue of Kings Courier focused on the overall bad condition of the triangular lot and the adjacent sidewalk. It was written after McCormack brought her saga of an apparently insurmountable city bureaucracy that had repeatedly ignored her pleas for help to the Kings Courier at the end of June, and this paper began an investigation of the problem.

Based on an inquiry from this newspaper, the city’s Department of Sanitation (DOS) also sent out an inspector to assess the lot, which is privately owned, and which was already on a list for cleaning. The most recent cleaning of the lot’s perimeter was performed on June 25th, said Matthew LiPani, a spokesperson for DOS.

LiPani said that, as is always done, the property owner -- who was notified that the lot required cleaning prior to the work being done -- “will be billed for the cleaning services.”

Nonetheless, the lot itself, said McCormack, is still in need of further cleaning. She told this paper that she had been told by city workers that cleaning of the lot’s interior area could not be done “till the weeds die and they can see what’s in it.” In the meantime, “People are still dumping stuff outside the lot,” McCormack reported.

LiPani promised that DOS “will continue to monitor the site,” and he urged area residents to call 311 if they observe “dirty lot conditions in the neighborho­od.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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