Long Island's towns deal with sidewalk repairs

A Bethpage neighborhood is awaiting repairs to a

A Bethpage neighborhood is awaiting repairs to a sidewalk along Stewart Avenue, a county road. (Feb. 26, 2013) (Credit: Newsday / Judy Cartwright)

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Sidewalks that were laid during Long Island's housing boom grew up in the Age of Aquarius and survived Y2K only to mature into the Age of Disrepair.

Many have buckled, forced up at odd angles as tree roots invade their turf. Even as more and more require repair, the number of towns willing to bear the expense has shrunk.

Here's a town-by-town look at how Long Island deals with repairs, compiled from local officials. But first, some basics:

In towns that continue to maintain sidewalks at town expense More sidewalks are in need of repair, even as budgets are squeezed. Expect a longer wait for repair.

In towns that have relinquished sidewalk responsibility

Homeowners must arrange for repairs and bear the cost.

But if damage was caused by superstorm Sandy -- for instance, a sidewalk was ripped up by an uprooted tree -- it's best to call town hall to find out if repairs can be done at no charge.

Sidewalks in incorporated villages

Villages have their own sidewalk policies. Residents should check with their village hall.

 

NASSAU COUNTY

 

 

NORTH HEMPSTEAD

 

The town is responsible for sidewalks.

Residents can report sidewalk problems to the town's 311 line. A report will be sent to the Sidewalk District staff and an inspector will determine whether short-term repair or replacement is needed. If tree roots are destabilizing the sidewalk, the tree will be removed.

If a damaged sidewalk is determined to be dangerous, repair will be scheduled as soon as possible. Otherwise, the work will be done when scheduling and resources permit.

 

HEMPSTEAD

 

Homeowner is responsible.

If the owner hires a contractor, a town permit is required before work can begin.

If the owner asks the town to do the job: A contractor hired through the town's bidding process will be assigned. Estimated cost of sidewalk replacement is $175 per section, or "flag." There are three payment options: Pay the contractor directly and notify the town; send payment in full to the town upon receipt of an invoice; or opt for a plan that attaches payments to property tax bills for five years.

For sidewalk damage caused by a town tree: The owner is responsible.

 

OYSTER BAY

 

Homeowner is responsible.

If the owner hires a contractor, a permit from the town Highway Department is necessary before work can begin. The department can be reached at 516-677-5762.

If the owner asks the town to do the job: The estimated cost is $100 per sidewalk "flag", according to a town information sheet, and the final tally depends on the total square footage, not the number of flags. The cost will be added to the property tax bill.

For sidewalk damage caused by a town tree: The owner is responsible.

 

COUNTY ROADS

 

Residents on Nassau County roads should contact the county about sidewalks. Homeowners are responsible for repairs and can either hire a contractor or ask the county to do the work. The county would arrange for a contractor and then bill the homeowner.

Sidewalk repairs are given priority based on the severity of damage. One Bethpage neighborhood off Stewart Avenue is awaiting repairs several years after notifying the county of damage to the sidewalk along the county road.

A permit from the Department of Public Works is necessary before work can begin. For information, call 516-571-6840.

 

SUFFOLK COUNTY

 

The county is not involved in sidewalk repairs along county roads. Residents of those roads should call their towns.

 

HUNTINGTON

 

Homeowner is responsible.

The town may require an owner to repair or replace a sidewalk and has the authority to make repairs if the owner doesn't. That hasn't been necessary, spokesman A.J. Carter said, because homeowners have made repairs after receiving summonses for failure to maintain a sidewalk.

For more sidewalk information, call the town's highway department at 631-499-0444.

For sidewalk damage caused by a town tree: The owner is responsible.

 

BABYLON

 

Homeowner is responsible.

The town may require an owner to repair a sidewalk and, if repairs aren't made and the sidewalk poses a public safety risk, the town may make repairs. The estimated cost is $75 per slab, plus administrative costs, and any charge not paid by the property owner will go on the tax bill.

Residents can call Citizen Services at 311 or 631-957-TOWN for more sidewalk information.

For sidewalk damage caused by a town tree: The town will make repairs at no cost to the owner.

 

SMITHTOWN

 

Town is responsible.

Residents can report a sidewalk in disrepair to 631-360-7500 or to highway@tosgov.com. An inspector determines if repair is necessary and, if so, its priority.

"We look at them on a case-by-case basis," Highway Superintendent Glenn Jorgensen said.

Highway repair season is expected to begin this month and typically continues into November, he said.

In Commack, the sidewalk along Michael Martino's street is buckled. "Kids in the neighborhood are tripping over the broken-up sidewalk on their way to the bus stop," Martino, a Long Island Rail Road engineer, told Watchdog.

Repairs can involve more than the sidewalk. Jorgensen said if tree roots are the culprit, the department will remove the tree.

 

ISLIP

 

Homeowner is responsible.

Owner must arrange for work to be done by a private contractor. A permit from the town is required before work can begin. For more information, call the Department of Public Works at 631-224-5610.

For sidewalk damage caused by a town tree: The town will make repairs at no cost to the property owner.

 

BROOKHAVEN

 

Town is responsible.

Residents can report a sidewalk in need of repair to 631-451-TOWN. A highway foreman inspects the site to determine if repair is necessary.

Sidewalks deemed a hazard are repaired immediately, either with concrete or asphalt patch.

 

RIVERHEAD

 

Homeowner is responsible.

Town code calls for the property owner to "at all times keep the sidewalk in good and safe repair, so that obligation falls on the property owner," according to town attorney Robert Kozakiewicz.

Calls to the town highway department for details were not returned.

 

SOUTHAMPTON

 

Town is responsible.

Residents can report a sidewalk to the highway superintendent's office, 631-728-3600.

 

SOUTHOLD

 

Town is responsible.

Residents can report a sidewalk to 631-765-3140. It will be inspected and, if considered dangerous, will be "dealt with immediately," Highway Superintendent Peter Harris said. Because of budget constraints, sidewalks that are unsightly but not dangerous will not be repaired. "I'd say 80 percent of my town doesn't have sidewalks," he said. "That's a wonderful thing because I only have to worry about the 20 percent that does."

 

EAST HAMPTON

 

Town is responsible.

Residents can report a sidewalk in need of repair to the Highway Department at 631-324-0925. Highway Superintendent Stephen Lynch said new reports are added to the list and repaired when possible. It's unlikely all will be done this year, he said, because the budget is limited.

"This is the first year we have any money for repairs in a few years" due to tight budgets, Lynch said.

 

SHELTER ISLAND

 

Sidewalk repair isn't an issue. The island has few sidewalks, none in front of homes.

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