Road map: City rolls forward on plan to take over private streets

River street: Church Lane resident David Amrusi wants the city to take over his block so the homeowners will be absolved of maintaining it.
Brooklyn Daily
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The city is taking a crucial step towards taking over responsibility for hundreds of unmapped streets — the private byways in many neighborhoods which homeowners are now burdened with maintaining.

Mayor DeBlasio has signed a new law requiring the Department of Transportation to identify and study all of the city’s unmapped streets with the aim of the city acquiring them in order to bring them into the normal system of municipal maintenance.

Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Canarsie) introduced the legislation because maintenance has become too burdensome for many of his constituents who live on such streets, he said.

“If they are not owned by the city, the city is not responsible for any work on these streets — mostly paving. Some don’t have sidewalks, it might be appropriate to put in a sidewalk,” said Maisel, whose district has a high number of roads not maintained by the city. “Each one of these streets has to be examined. Some of the streets are in very bad shape.”

Under the new law, the Department of Transportation must identify and study all unmapped streets citywide by June 30, 2018, to determine the feasibility of bringing them onto the city rolls, Maisel said.

“This does not mean that we’re definitely going to take over all the streets, it just provides a path for the city to do this,” he said. “So the people would be relieved of any responsibility having to take care of any major breaks.”

But the process of adding a street to the city map isn’t always as straightforward as one might think. In many cases, it’s not clear which streets — or even which parts of a street — are outside the city’s purview. Hence the need for the study, Maisel said.

“What is and what isn’t, we don’t know, there are lots of them, every street has a different history and we want to know,” he said. “There’s a lot of confusion, and it requires a lot of research.”

One Church Lane homeowner lives right in the middle of that confusion — quite literally.

David Amrusi’s house, between Remsen Avenue and E. 89th Street in Canarsie, is on a mapped, city-owned section of the road, but just a stone’s throw away in both directions, Church Lane is unmapped, according to the Topographical Bureau at Borough President Adam’s office.

But the entirety of Church Lane, which extends from E. 86th Street to E. 92nd Street, has been neglected by the city, according to Amrusi. It lacks sidewalks, and floods regularly in one of its private sections between E. 88th and E. 89th street, which the city never comes to fix, he said.

“The city never fixes the street, we don’t have a sidewalk,” he said. “They never repave.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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