Printer Friendly Format Email a Friend

PR- 116-05
March 31, 2005


Pilot Program to Repair Sidewalks Damaged by Street Trees Throughout All Five Boroughs at No Cost to the Homeowner

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe today announced the Trees & Sidewalks Repair Program – an initiative that will enable Parks & Recreation to fix sidewalks damaged by the roots of street trees citywide, at no cost to the homeowner.  The $3.4 million initiative was developed with the help of the Department of Transportation (DOT) and is funded by the Mayor and Borough Presidents of the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island.  As many as 2,000 damaged sidewalks are slated to be repaired in the first year of the program.  The Mayor was also joined by DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Staten Island Borough President Jim Molinaro and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion at the announcement in Middle Village, Queens.

“Street trees make a neighborhood alive and vibrant, but unfortunately, they can also damage its sidewalks leaving them unsightly and hazardous,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “Up until now, the cost to repair this damage has been borne by the homeowner, and can reach as much as $1,000 per tree.  The new Trees & Sidewalks Repair Program will relieve the financial burden of homeowners who are trying to keep their sidewalks safe and beautiful.  I want to thank Borough Presidents Marshall, Molinaro and Carrion for their support of this project, and urge all New Yorkers who have sidewalks damaged by street trees to call 311.”

“Street trees provide innumerable benefits to the economy, health, and aesthetics of New York City,” said Commissioner Benepe.  “This initiative will enable us to more efficiently care for our urban canopy while lessening the burden of tree/sidewalk repairs on individual New Yorkers.”

Every year, Parks & Recreation receives 2,500 requests for sidewalk inspection and generates close to 3,000 work orders for tree root pruning and the accompanying sidewalk repair.  Prior to the Trees and Sidewalks Repair Program, when a street tree damaged a homeowner's sidewalk, the homeowner would have to hire a private contractor to open up the sidewalk on a date scheduled by Parks & Recreation.  After Parks’ Forestry Division made repairs to the tree's root system, the homeowner would have to arrange for a private contractor to repair the sidewalk.  All expenses had to be covered by the homeowner, and could be as much as $1,000.

In the new pilot program, the City will take full responsibility for all repairs to the root system of the tree and the sidewalk.  Instead of hiring a contractor and scheduling a
Parks & Recreation Forestry crew to evaluate the roots, homeowners will now only need to make one call to 311.  Parks & Recreation will then inspect, design, and construct a sidewalk solution around the tree in front of their home.  The program will be targeted to the owners of 1-2-3 residential (tax class 1) properties.  Homeowners in all neighborhoods will be able to benefit from the new program, as every Community Board will have some funds allocated to address tree and sidewalk repairs.

“Queens has more street trees than any other borough,” said Queens Borough President Marshall.  “That's why this program will be a welcome one and one that I was happy to embrace and support with $500,000 in discretionary funding. I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Benepe and the Department of Transportation for their initiative and support for this new program.”
“I applaud Mayor Bloomberg for extending this help to homeowners with sidewalks damaged by tree roots,” said Staten Island Borough President Molinaro. “Many residents on Staten Island face this problem. Our Borough has over 1,000 miles of roads and 90,000 street trees. The funding by the Mayor and Borough Presidents, including $500,000 from my capital budget, will allow residents to gain new, safe sidewalks at no cost to them.  This is an example of government getting to the root of a problem and solving it. Staten Island residents appreciate Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership in helping to protect our neighborhoods.”

Repairs will be prioritized according to severity of sidewalk damage, what percentage of the sidewalk is impacted by the damage, and whether the sidewalk is in a high-traffic area. Sidewalks will be repaired in one of three ways: increasing growing space for tree, ramping sidewalk over roots or increasing the strength of the sidewalk.  Constituents interested in taking advantage of the pilot program can call 311 and ask for the Trees & Sidewalks Repair Program.

Parks & Recreation cares for 500,000 street trees and 2 million more in Parks citywide.


Edward Skyler / Robert Lawson   (212) 788-2958


Warner Johnston   (Parks & Recreation Dept.)
(212) 360-1311

More Resources
View the photos
Watch the video in 56k or 300k