The Fresh Meadows resident of more than 40 years has had a city-owned tree along his driveway at 75-03 180th Street since he moved into his home.
Over the last few years, the roots of the tree have damaged his driveway and caused daily inconveniences. Yet the city refuses to help, he said.
The Parks Department’s Tree & Sidewalks Program helps homeowners repair severe sidewalk damage caused by root growth.
Although the tree is in Friedman’s yard, because it’s technically owned by the city the Parks Department agreed to fix the damage two years ago. Shortly after, a forester inspected the driveway and gave the damage a 52 rating out of 100, with 100 being the worst.
Following the inspection the tree became a low priority, and Friedman said he has not heard from the Parks Department since. State Senator Tony Avella has also sent the agency letters, all of which have gone unanswered.
“It’s getting very frustrating,” Friedman said. “I’ve paid taxes for 40 years, my children grew up in this neighborhood, and I just feel like it should be taken care of because if it was my tree and my responsibility, it would’ve been taken care of already.
“And if I take the tree down on my own, that would be a huge fine,” Friedman added. “The tree should be taken down, the driveway fixed and that’s it, we’re done.”
Avella said Friedman gets bumped down the list of priority whenever someone has worse damage than his.
“There is now a huge backlog of people who are waiting for the city to fix their sidewalk, and in this case the driveway,” Avella said. “He could be sitting here for the next ten years and not get this done.
“It’s an issue about fairness,” Avella added. “If you have the program and you’re telling homeowners across the city that you’re going to take care of the problem, then do it.
The damaged driveway has caused several problems, including a flat tire on his wife’s car. After snowstorms, his gardener has broken three snowblower blades clearing the driveway.
Friedman said he didn’t want to pay $10,000 to fix his driveway just to have the root problem pop up again in a year.
Avella and Friedman argued there should be a certain amount of time, even with a low rating, that your damage eventually gets fixed.
“It’s two years and counting, the city should take care of this,” Avella said. “Get out here and do it.”