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Vacca gets agency to adopt orphan sidewalk

It is a stretch of sidewalk that was the orphan of Pelham Parkway South. No City agency wanted to claim responsibility for maintaining the City sidewalk, until now.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca’s Volunteer Corps held a major cleanup of a sidewalk running along a wall that abuts land between the service road and main road of Pelham Parkway South between Cruger Avenue and Williamsbridge Road in August 2010. The service road had been maintained by the Department of Sanitation, while the parkland alongside the roadway was maintained by the Department of Parks and Recreation.

After the storm, the Sanitation Department removed snow from the sidewalk and sent an e-mail to Vacca’s office pledging to address any issues with the area now and in the future. Vacca had reached out to Sanitation after his staffer, Jeremy Warneke, indicated that there was a problem with snow and ice on the sidewalk after the storm. Crews removed the snow on Wednesday, January 12. It had been covered since the blizzard on Sunday, December 26.

“This is a significant victory for the Pelham Parkway South community,” Vacca said. “This was an area where the Vacca Volunteers Corps. had a significant clean up. We had at least 30 people there cleaning, and we took away whole garbage bags filled with litter, weeds and remnants of cups and bottles. When Jeremy indicated that there was a problem with snow and ice at the same location, we reached out the Sanitation Department, who in an e-mail to my office said they would upkeep this area from this time forward.”

Pleased with the outcome of the decision was Howard Martin, executive director of Bronx House at 990 Pelham Parkway South, located directly across the street from the sidewalk. He said that he has sent his own crews across the street, mainly in the summer, to clean litter and other debris from the path. Martin said that he was unaware of the dispute between Parks and Sanitation over who was responsible for maintenance of the sidewalk. He also said that in the spring and summer he is often forced to remove litter from the walk, even though that is not Bronx House’s responsibility.

“Years ago we used to clean it all of the time, but that was when we had a bigger staff,” Martin said. “Sometimes we are forced to clean it.”

Martin said that his staff generally doesn’t remove snow from the sidewalk across the street, which also has to be accessed by drivers and passengers exiting from cars parked along the service road. There is also a break in the wall that allows for access to a Bx12 bus stop on Pelham Parkway South. Martin said giving his limited maintenance staff, he cannot take responsibility for it.

“Since times are tough, I have unfortunately had to let a few maintenance people go,” Martin said. “It is an issue for us because I should not be the one who is cleaning that sidewalk. We have enough going on keeping our own building clean, let alone outside.”

A spokeswoman for DSNY only said that the agency helps out when it is needed, as it did in this case.

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