18 THE QUEENS COURIER • JULY 22, 2021 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Northeast Queens leaders call on city to fi x year-old sidewalk damage caused by Tropical Storm Isaias
BY JENNA BAGCAL
A Queens lawmaker called on the city to
make long-awaited sidewalk repairs nearly
a year aft er Tropical Storm Isaias wreaked
havoc in the metropolitan area.
On Tuesday, July 13, Senator John Liu
joined with community leaders and local
homeowners in Bellerose who highlighted
the dangers surrounding the neglected sidewalks.
For the past 11 months, residents have
put up traffi c cones and homemade signs
to warn pedestrians of the the damage and
Th e group said that aft er months of delays,
the city failed to make good on its promise
to begin repairs in early spring “when
the weather is warmer.” Since then, they said
that there have been no updates or followups
as to when the city would begin fi xing
the uprooted sidewalks.
“Th ese sidewalks are used daily by children,
seniors and other pedestrians to get
to schools, parks, grocery stores, and to
run daily errands. Sidewalk safety is more
important than ever with the rise in pedestrian
usage and it’s unfathomable that a year
later the city has failed to make these repairs,”
Liu said. “Th e city must get this work done
yesterday, to protect pedestrians from injury,
to relieve homeowners of prolonged anxiety
and to spare our taxpayers from potentially
costly lawsuits against the city.”
Isaias hit the East Coast and the Caribbean
in August 2020, leading to Governor Cuomo
calling for a state of emergency in the days
following to help with cleanup and power
In the aft ermath of Isaias, Queens residents
reportedly had over 9,300 reports of
downed trees at the time, making it the borough
with the most tree damage in the city.
Residents said that the state of the
sidewalks was not only a safety hazard
but an eyesore for homeowners who
liked to maintain a high standard for
“As a longtime Bellerose home owner who
takes pride in maintaining the property in
pristine condition, I am distressed by having
the sidewalk in such an unattractive, unsafe
and dangerous condition for the last year.
Th e city promised to repair it but they still
have not done so,” Kathy Parent said.
Lifelong Whitestone resident Angela
DeNicola, a 93-year-old cancer survivor,
echoed Parent’s sentiment.
“I fi nd it unacceptable that the upended
sidewalk, caused by a NYC tree that fell in
a storm last August, has not been repaired.
Aft er numerous calls to various agencies, to
no avail, it remains a safety issue,” DeNicola
According to a city spokesperson, sidewalk
repairs would be coming to the
community sooner rather than later.
“We’re grateful to all the elected offi cials
who highlighted the outstanding work today,
and we look forward to making the repairs
in the coming weeks. Queens deserves safe
and accessible sidewalks and we’ll do everything
we can to expedite the process from
here,” said Mitch Schwartz, a spokesperson
for the mayor.
Weprin joins local activists’ call for city to grant homeowners property tax relief
BY CARLOTTA MOHAMED
State Assemblyman David Weprin and
southeast Queens residents are calling on
the New York City Department of Finance
to grant Queens homeowners much-needed
property tax relief.
Weprin rallied with community activists
and representatives from the Queens
Village Civic Association, the Guy R. Brewer
United Democratic Club, St. Albans Civic
Improvement Association, SEQLegalNYC
and New York Community for Change at
Haggerty Park in Hollis on Sunday, July 11.
Th e assemblyman stressed the hardships
homeowners faced due to the COVID-19
pandemic. With the city still in the early
stages of recovering from the devastation
caused by the pandemic, protecting Queens
residents from possible eviction is more
important than ever. At the start of the pandemic,
Weprin protected homeowners by
introducing and passing legislation in the
New York State Assembly to postpone the
tax lien sale.
According to Weprin, now is the time to
relieve the property tax burden placed on
working-class families and communities of
color in Queens.
“For families who have lost loved ones,
experienced emotional distress or fi nancial
devastation because of the COVID-19 pandemic,
now is not the time to saddle them
with the additional hardship of rising property
taxes. Th e property tax burden threatens
the opportunity for homeownership
among hard-working, middle-class families
in Queens. Th e current property tax system
is in need of reform and I call on the
Department of Finance to provide relief
now,” Weprin said.
Preston Baker, Assembly District 29 leader
and executive leader of the Guy R. Brewer
United Democratic Club, said they simply
want what is right and what is fair.
“Our community stands together in this
fi ght and we want the rest of New York to
do the right thing when it comes to southeast
Queens because this has been a burden
our community has dealt with far too
long,” Baker said. “We can’t aff ord it any longer.
We are still recovering from the eff ects of
COVID-19. We need a fair assessment and
we need relief!”
Baker thanked Weprin, Queens Borough
President Donovan Richards, state Senator
Leroy Comrie, Assemblywoman Alicia
Hyndman, and Council members I. Daneek
Miller and Adrienne Adams for standing
with the community on the property tax
In New York City, property taxes in
majority-minority communities are over
assessed by almost $1.7 billion every year,
according to Jason Clark, Esq., co-founder
of SEQLegalNYC, an organization that
provides residents and small businesses
in southeast Queens with access to legal
“If we don’t do something to cure the disparities
in our property tax system, more
and more homeowners in the working-class
communities are going to struggle to pay
their mortgage and, ultimately, lose their
homes. We’ve got to do something now
before it’s too late,” Clark said.
Asim Deen, of the Queens Village Civic
Association, said they’re rallying to stop the
increase to property taxes and, better yet, ask
for relief as they recover from COVID-19.
“Th is will lead to foreclosure and loss of
property, especially aff ecting our senior citizens
living on fi xed incomes. We believe
there is enough money in the state and city
budget and enough money to correct the tax
code to make it more equitable,” Deen said.
Oster Bryan, of the St. Albans Civic
Improvement Association, said they now
have the chance to start fresh and hopes
the new leadership in the City Council will
address the issue.
“We pay more taxes even with lower
income home evaluations than our counterparts
and somehow they can’t seem to fi x
this problem in the tax code,” Bryan said.
“It’s a failure.”
Photo courtesy of Senator John Liu’s offi ce
Courtesy of Weprin’s offi ce
State Assemblyman David Weprin (c.) with southeast Queens community activists at Haggerty Park