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New Hyde Park Road sidewalk repair under way

Sidewalk conditions along New Hyde Park Road in

Sidewalk conditions along New Hyde Park Road in Manhasset Hills has forced pedestrians to walk on the road's shoulder. (March 20, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Judy Cartwright

Here's a sidewalk that lost its reason for being.

It occupies the east side of New Hyde Park Road in Manhasset Hills and was long used as a pedestrian route for local shopping as well as to the nearby Clinton G. Martin pool. But then it buckled, cracked and became overgrown with weeds.For the past two years, Susan McClellan has been pleading with officials to take action to make it walkable again. She forwarded us copies of email correspondence, dating to 2011; in one letter to North Hempstead, she said pedestrians have abandoned the sidewalk and resorted to walking on the road's shoulder, a tight space between the curb and the white line on the pavement. She pointed out that the practice "is very unsafe and an accident waiting to happen on a high traffic (and high truck traffic) road."

She learned quickly that she couldn't rest after contacting just one municipality. The town told her that, even though it is in charge of the sidewalk, tree work would be necessary before sidewalk work could begin. It turns out that the trees belong to Nassau County because New Hyde Park Road is a county road.

The town said that it had been waiting for the county to take care of the trees.

McClellan waited, too. She was still waiting when superstorm Sandy arrived almost a year and a half later and downed several of the trees, damage that didn't help the sidewalk timetable.

McClellan contacted us recently, exasperated that another summer is approaching and the sidewalk, which neighborhood children have used to reach the municipal pool at New Hyde Park Road and Marcus Avenue, is still in shambles.

"I just worry about my kids and all pedestrians," she said.

We're pleased to report the sidewalk work is under way.

Nassau's Department of Public Works began the tree work late last month and the town, upon hearing the news, said sidewalk replacement would begin soon.

On Friday, town spokesman Collin Nash said the work had started and estimated it would take another two to three weeks to complete.

If all goes as planned, McClellan can spend her summer knowing that the walk to the pool will be a safer one.

So a new sidewalk is on the way, but Department of Public Works spokesman Michael Martino said it was necessary to remove all trees along that stretch. "New trees will be planted in the future," he said.

Trees in municipal sumps aren't likely to rank high on anyone's cleanup lists. Here's one in Commack that has neighbors concerned because, after superstorm Sandy, it fell onto utility lines strung along their backyards."The tree fell onto cables, pulling them out of the junction boxes," John Mitchell said. "Cables are still hanging in my backyard. Is it possible to get this situation fixed before someone gets hurt?"

Mitchell had made a number of telephone calls asking the various utilities and the Town of Smithtown to repair the lines and remove the tree's remains. When springlike temperatures arrived to mark the beginning of outdoor season, he contacted Watchdog.

He and his wife, Jean, are concerned about the safety of their backyard for grandchildren and other visitors. Though some of the damaged cables along the back fence had been replaced and restrung after the storm, copper wires extended from the torn sheathing of others.

We notified Verizon -- the cables appeared to belong to the company -- and a day later a representative visited and told the Mitchells they could expect branches to be cut away in the next few days, a move necessary before the lines can be repaired and raised.

Verizon spokesman John Bonomo told Watchdog the tree trimming should be done by this weekend. "We will return there next week to ensure the cables are at an acceptable height," he said.

As for the tree itself: After we heard from Verizon, we asked Smithtown about its fate. Highway Superintendent Glenn Jorgenson told us that the department had issued a work order a week earlier to a town contractor to remove the tree; though it pulled lines down in the Mitchells' yard, it actually landed on a neighbor's property. "He has up to 30 days to complete it," Jorgenson said.

The Mitchells are counting on it. Until then, they plan to keep children out of the yard.

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