City agencies squabble over Pelham Parkway snow removal

Courtesy Debby Kawalick

They put down a sidewalk that no one wanted —and now the city is at loggerheads over who should clean it.

Pelham Parkway locals are griping that snow removal on the much-reviled “sidewalk to nowhere” installed on the Pelham Parkway South median from Williamsbridge Road to Eastchester Road has crawled along at a glacier pace.

“For most of the winter, it’s been totally neglected,” said Debby Kowalick, who snapped a photo in early February of the sidewalk engulfed in ice.

Snow adds to squeeze

Snow removal is crucial on the sidewalk, locals say, because every inch of space on the adjacent service road counts.

Community members have protested since 2012 that the added sidewalk narrows the service road to such an extent that emergency vehicles may not be able to squeeze though.

On Feb. 14, two delivery trucks got stuck on the street —which was even more narrow than usual because the snow on the sidewalk forced cars to park farther away from the curb.

Who is responsible?

Community Board 11 District Manager Jeremy Warneke says he’s unsure where to refer the snow removal complaints.

Most of the city ‘s sidewalks fall under the jurisdiction of property owners, who face fines if they don’t clean up snow in front of their properties. But the “sidewalk to nowhere” —so-called in a lawsuit filed by community leaders but tossed aside by a City judge in April 2013—falls in murky snow cleaning territory.

The five-foot sidewalk falls on the opposite side of homes and businesses, and is sandwiched between parked cars and a stretch of greenery maintained by the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Warneke said he had a hunch that cleanup of the suspect sidewalk was under the Department of Sanitation’s jurisdiction.

In 2011, Sanitation agreed to help clean a similar sidewalk down the street, from Williamsbridge Road to Cruger Avenue, according to a back issue of the Times-Reporter.

But a spokesperson for Sanitation said this particular sidewalk fell under the Parks Department’s turf. Parks then dodged responsibility, saying that the agency was only responsible for maintaining the adjacent parkland but not the sidewalk itself.

A spokesperson said Parks would send out a crew anyway to remove the remaining snow Wednesday, Feb. 26.

Community members say they’ve been predicting these types of problems since 2012, when the City put in the sidewalk as part of a $30 million renovation of Pelham Parkway South.

“Right when it went down, we had questions,” said Frank Vignali, who lives in the area. “We wanted to know who was going to take care of it? And we still don’t know.”

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.

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