There’s snow reason not to follow shoveling laws

To the Editor,

Last winter, I became one of the 25 percent of people aged 65 and older who fall each year. It happened because I slipped on a mound of frozen snow left on a crosswalk on the corner of Berkeley Place and Seventh Avenue. Fortunately, I wasn’t injured. However, the accident led to my looking into what could be done to make sidewalks safer for pedestrians in the winter. I was pleased to find that New York City has rules and regulations intended to accomplish this.

According to the New York City Administrative Code, “every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant, or other person having charge of any lot or building must clean snow and ice from the sidewalk adjacent (i.e., in front of, on the side of, and in back of their properties).” If a snowstorm ends:

• Between 7 am and 4:59 pm, sidewalks must be cleared within four hours.

• Between 5 pm and 8:59 pm, sidewalks must be cleared within 14 hours.

• Between 9 pm and 6:59 am, sidewalks must be cleared by 11 am.

For example: If the snow stops falling at 7 pm, the person in charge of any lot or building has until 9 am the following morning to clear adjacent sidewalks of snow and ice.

The city’s rules and regulations state that snow and ice should be cleared from sidewalks in order to create a path for pedestrians that is at least four-feet wide. Corner-property owners should clear paths to their crosswalks, including any pedestrian ramps, and, where the snow has melted and created a puddle, disperse water away from the crosswalk. In addition, snow and ice must be removed from sidewalks next to bus stops and hydrants. “Snow may not be thrown into the street. If the snow or ice becomes frozen so hard that it cannot be removed, the sidewalk may be strewn with ashes, sand, sawdust, or similar suitable material within the same time limits,” according to the code.

The Department of Sanitation, which is responsible for enforcing the code governing the removal of snow and ice, can issue summons for failing to clear sidewalks adjoining private property within the stated time frames. The fines for failing to comply with the city’s snow and ice removal regulations are: $100–$150 for the first offense, $150–$350 for the second offense and $250–$350 for the third and subsequent offenses.

Violations should be reported after the snow has stopped falling and the grace period for cleaning snow is over. They should be reported to the NYC 311 Customer Service Center either by phoning 311 or by using the short online form on the 311 website www.nyc.gov/311. Complaints about snow or ice on sidewalks in front of public property, such as bus stop shelters, park paths, or schools, can be made at any time. Because much of the enforcement of snow removal regulations is complaint-driven, it is important to report violations. If you are aware of someone who frequently ignores the regulations, you should encourage your neighbors to join you in reporting these violations to 311.

Failure to comply with snow- and ice-removal regulations poses another risk to property owners. As advertisements of law firms point out at this time of year, anyone who has been injured as a result of a fall on a snow- or ice-covered sidewalk can sue the party responsible for clearing the sidewalk for damages.

The city has established a program to assist resident homeowners who are 60 or older, or are permanently or temporarily disabled, or homebound. The program connects them with volunteers willing to shovel snow in their zip code. It should be noted that volunteer matches are not guaranteed. Anyone needing assistance or willing to volunteer to shovel snow should phone 311.John Casson

Park Slope

Put responders first

To the Editor,

The media is reporting that the World Trade Center Victims Compensation Fund is being depleted at an alarming rate and may stop payments to first responders by 2020. What a sad occurrence, as all too many brave souls from the police, fire, EMS, transit, and construction pitched in during these horrific days, and now are experiencing debilitating diseases.

It is a wonder that the federal government didn’t make the terrorist homelands pay through the nose, though, I guess, we Americans will wind up footing the final bill.

In addition, let’s look into the lawyers, circling like sharks, advertising their “wins” in World Trade Center cases. I know that millions of dollars from payouts from this fund, needed for responders, went into their deep pockets.

I count my blessings that I am relatively healthy, though, let’s push for adequate funding for the responders, to ease their and their families’ pain.Robert W. Lobenstein

Sheepshead Bay

R train pain

To the Editor,

There are many flaws to proposals by some elected officials to divide the current R subway line service into two sections (“R they serious? Straphangers blast pols’ proposal to again split Bklyn, Manhattan R-train service” by Julianne McShane online Feb. 26).

One would run from Continental Avenue-Forest Hills in Queens to South Ferry in Manhattan. The second section would run from Bay Ridge-95th Street and Fourth Avenue to Court Street Downtown. Thousands of Brooklyn riders would have to transfer at Pacific Street, Lawrence Street, or Court Street stations to other subway lines for connections to Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Many of these other subway lines are already operating at 100-percent capacity. Thousands of Queens and Manhattan residents would have to change at 59th Street, Times Square, 34th Street, or Union Square stations in Manhattan to reach Brooklyn. This transfer will add several minutes to everyone’s trip. Imagine the problems for those coming and going to Staten Island via the ferry if this connection is severed. Those who count on connections to the Staten Island Ferry (which runs less frequently than the subway) could be subject to even longer commutes.

Work to repair and protect against future flooding of the Montague Tunnel used by the R line as a result of superstorm Sandy in 2012 cost $250 million. It began in August 2013 and was completed in September 2014, one month ahead of schedule and under budget. Grant funds from the Federal Transit Administration Superstorm Sandy Recovery and Resiliency program paid for this work.

All federally funded assets have a useful life. It was assumed that this work would extend the useful life of this 100-year-old tunnel by 50 years or more. The MTA at the start of each federal fiscal year after Oct. 1 submits an Annual Certification and Assurances to the FTA, which maintains funding eligibility. This document includes confirmation that all previously funded federal assets are being maintained and continue to remain in transit service. The MTA must also sign a Master Grant Agreement upon receipt of funding, which also documents the same promise. Every two years, MTA must also conduct a physical inventory of all federally funded assets worth $5,000 or more. This is the basis for submital to the FTA of a Bi-Annual Certification for all federally funded inventory that is still in use. If the MTA fails to keep any federally funded asset in transit service for the anticipated full useful life, the FTA has a legal right to ask for its money back. Reimbursement cost is frequently calculated on straight line depreciation of the asset. In short, the MTA could end up having to pay back Washington more than $200 million if the Montague Tunnel no longer remains in active transit service.

If this is ever implemented and the Montaghue Tunnel is no longer used, don’t be surprised when the respective Offices of Inspector General for the MTA and FTA, city Comptroller Scott Stringer, and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli begin to take an active interest.

Sooner or later, they will initiate their own respective review to see if there has been any waste, fraud, or abuse of taxpayers dollars. Their respective audits and reports will make interesting reading. Upgrading the existing signal system and providing more service might make more sense. Perhaps those elected officials who support this crazy idea might be better off attempting to find additional capital and operating dollars to pay for improving the full route of R-line service.Larry Penner

Great Neck

To the Editor,

Last winter, I became one of the 25 percent of people aged 65 and older who fall each year. It happened because I slipped on a mound of frozen snow left on a crosswalk on the corner of Berkeley Place and Seventh Avenue. Fortunately, I wasn’t injured. However, the accident led to my looking into what could be done to make sidewalks safer for pedestrians in the winter. I was pleased to find that New York City has rules and regulations intended to accomplish this.

According to the New York City Administrative Code, “every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant, or other person having charge of any lot or building must clean snow and ice from the sidewalk adjacent (i.e., in front of, on the side of, and in back of their properties).” If a snowstorm ends:

• Between 7 am and 4:59 pm, sidewalks must be cleared within four hours.

• Between 5 pm and 8:59 pm, sidewalks must be cleared within 14 hours.

• Between 9 pm and 6:59 am, sidewalks must be cleared by 11 am.

For example: If the snow stops falling at 7 pm, the person in charge of any lot or building has until 9 am the following morning to clear adjacent sidewalks of snow and ice.

The city’s rules and regulations state that snow and ice should be cleared from sidewalks in order to create a path for pedestrians that is at least four-feet wide. Corner-property owners should clear paths to their crosswalks, including any pedestrian ramps, and, where the snow has melted and created a puddle, disperse water away from the crosswalk. In addition, snow and ice must be removed from sidewalks next to bus stops and hydrants. “Snow may not be thrown into the street. If the snow or ice becomes frozen so hard that it cannot be removed, the sidewalk may be strewn with ashes, sand, sawdust, or similar suitable material within the same time limits,” according to the code.

The Department of Sanitation, which is responsible for enforcing the code governing the removal of snow and ice, can issue summons for failing to clear sidewalks adjoining private property within the stated time frames. The fines for failing to comply with the city’s snow and ice removal regulations are: $100–$150 for the first offense, $150–$350 for the second offense and $250–$350 for the third and subsequent offenses.

Violations should be reported after the snow has stopped falling and the grace period for cleaning snow is over. They should be reported to the NYC 311 Customer Service Center either by phoning 311 or by using the short online form on the 311 website www.nyc.gov/311. Complaints about snow or ice on sidewalks in front of public property, such as bus stop shelters, park paths, or schools, can be made at any time. Because much of the enforcement of snow removal regulations is complaint-driven, it is important to report violations. If you are aware of someone who frequently ignores the regulations, you should encourage your neighbors to join you in reporting these violations to 311.

Failure to comply with snow- and ice-removal regulations poses another risk to property owners. As advertisements of law firms point out at this time of year, anyone who has been injured as a result of a fall on a snow- or ice-covered sidewalk can sue the party responsible for clearing the sidewalk for damages.

The city has established a program to assist resident homeowners who are 60 or older, or are permanently or temporarily disabled, or homebound. The program connects them with volunteers willing to shovel snow in their zip code. It should be noted that volunteer matches are not guaranteed. Anyone needing assistance or willing to volunteer to shovel snow should phone 311.John Casson

Park Slope

Put responders first

To the Editor,

The media is reporting that the World Trade Center Victims Compensation Fund is being depleted at an alarming rate and may stop payments to first responders by 2020. What a sad occurrence, as all too many brave souls from the police, fire, EMS, transit, and construction pitched in during these horrific days, and now are experiencing debilitating diseases.

It is a wonder that the federal government didn’t make the terrorist homelands pay through the nose, though, I guess, we Americans will wind up footing the final bill.

In addition, let’s look into the lawyers, circling like sharks, advertising their “wins” in World Trade Center cases. I know that millions of dollars from payouts from this fund, needed for responders, went into their deep pockets.

I count my blessings that I am relatively healthy, though, let’s push for adequate funding for the responders, to ease their and their families’ pain.Robert W. Lobenstein

Sheepshead Bay

R train pain

To the Editor,

There are many flaws to proposals by some elected officials to divide the current R subway line service into two sections (“R they serious? Straphangers blast pols’ proposal to again split Bklyn, Manhattan R-train service” by Julianne McShane online Feb. 26).

One would run from Continental Avenue-Forest Hills in Queens to South Ferry in Manhattan. The second section would run from Bay Ridge-95th Street and Fourth Avenue to Court Street Downtown. Thousands of Brooklyn riders would have to transfer at Pacific Street, Lawrence Street, or Court Street stations to other subway lines for connections to Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Many of these other subway lines are already operating at 100-percent capacity. Thousands of Queens and Manhattan residents would have to change at 59th Street, Times Square, 34th Street, or Union Square stations in Manhattan to reach Brooklyn. This transfer will add several minutes to everyone’s trip. Imagine the problems for those coming and going to Staten Island via the ferry if this connection is severed. Those who count on connections to the Staten Island Ferry (which runs less frequently than the subway) could be subject to even longer commutes.

Work to repair and protect against future flooding of the Montague Tunnel used by the R line as a result of superstorm Sandy in 2012 cost $250 million. It began in August 2013 and was completed in September 2014, one month ahead of schedule and under budget. Grant funds from the Federal Transit Administration Superstorm Sandy Recovery and Resiliency program paid for this work.

All federally funded assets have a useful life. It was assumed that this work would extend the useful life of this 100-year-old tunnel by 50 years or more. The MTA at the start of each federal fiscal year after Oct. 1 submits an Annual Certification and Assurances to the FTA, which maintains funding eligibility. This document includes confirmation that all previously funded federal assets are being maintained and continue to remain in transit service. The MTA must also sign a Master Grant Agreement upon receipt of funding, which also documents the same promise. Every two years, MTA must also conduct a physical inventory of all federally funded assets worth $5,000 or more. This is the basis for submital to the FTA of a Bi-Annual Certification for all federally funded inventory that is still in use. If the MTA fails to keep any federally funded asset in transit service for the anticipated full useful life, the FTA has a legal right to ask for its money back. Reimbursement cost is frequently calculated on straight line depreciation of the asset. In short, the MTA could end up having to pay back Washington more than $200 million if the Montague Tunnel no longer remains in active transit service.

If this is ever implemented and the Montaghue Tunnel is no longer used, don’t be surprised when the respective Offices of Inspector General for the MTA and FTA, city Comptroller Scott Stringer, and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli begin to take an active interest.

Sooner or later, they will initiate their own respective review to see if there has been any waste, fraud, or abuse of taxpayers dollars. Their respective audits and reports will make interesting reading. Upgrading the existing signal system and providing more service might make more sense. Perhaps those elected officials who support this crazy idea might be better off attempting to find additional capital and operating dollars to pay for improving the full route of R-line service.Larry Penner

Great Neck

More from Around New York

>