Assemblyman William ‘Bill’ Colton (Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Bath Beach) today charged the de Blasio Administration with discriminating against people with disabilities, because the city continues to stonewall on fixing a sidewalk in front of a disabled constituent’s house so that the roots of a city-planted tree has room to grow out.
Colton said the situation started about a year ago when the city’s Parks Department did repair work on the sidewalk in front of 2020 West 7th Street, where his disabled constituent, Albert Corrace, lives with his wife. As is the case in many sidewalks around the city, the sidewalk had been raised because of a city-owned tree that is planted on the curbside of the sidewalk.
However, in repairing the work, the city created a wide 37-foot long tree pit, making it extremely difficult for passer-bys, especially those with walkers or with baby carriages, or with wheel chairs, to use the public sidewalk.
The narrow sidewalk, a mere three-and-a-half feet wide, serves as a burden for Corrace, who utilizes a walker to get around, and the tree pit has become a muddy hazard, including not being level with the chipped sidewalk and having protruding gas caps from pipes in the ground.
After receiving a complaint from Corrace, Colton called the mayor’s office and was told the city would look into it. Finally, the city sent somebody to the property along with a Parks Department forester, who took a look at the work and said it was done correctly.
“The forester was very adamant that it’s the city’s policy to not cut any roots from the tree,” recalled Colton. “I asked him is the city more concerned about the rights of people with disabilities or the rights of trees, and he responded, ‘the policy is the city is there to protect the trees.'”
Colton is calling this incident discrimination against a person with disabilities and demands justice, along with the proper action to resolve the matter. “This incident shows how insensitive the City is towards local, one- and two-family homeowners. This is an injustice against disabled persons and against parents with carriages,” he said.
Corrace also believes there is discrimination against people with disabilities, and is filing a discrimination complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights against the Parks Department for failing to make reasonable accommodations to a person with disabilities.
Democratic District Leaders Nancy Tong and Charles Ragusa noted the problem of errant tree roots pushing up sidewalks in Gravesend is an ongoing issue.
“This is disgraceful of the City not to take responsibility for their actions. The impact is widespread for the community and we demand this issue be fixed as soon as possible,” they said in a joint statement.