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A woman attempts to pass beneath the B/Q line at Avenue Y, a daunting task.

New York City residents and business owners are required to clear their sidewalks after snow storms or face heavy fines from city authorities. But city agencies have failed to clear many public sidewalks and those abutting government property, suggesting a double standard that puts pedestrians at risk.

With 48 inches of snow falling over the course of 22 days since January 1, deadbeat landlords who’ve failed to shovel paths have become a reviled caricature in New York City. Currently, they could face fines of $150, and a local City Council member has introduced new legislation that would direct city workers to clear private sidewalks and forward the bill to the property owner.

But while city workers may one day be deployed to clear private sidewalks, Sheepshead Bites has found a number of government-owned sidewalks that those same city workers have failed to clear.

Among the worst spots this publication surveyed yesterday are the underpasses of the B/Q Brighton line, all located between East 15th Street and East 16th Street. From Sheepshead Bay Road to Kings Highway, not one of the half dozen underpasses without a subway station had clear paths shoveled on both sides of the street, and even some of those with a subway station were left uncleared. In most locations, the northern side of the street was partially shoveled, while the southern side remained untouched.

It's a block long stretch of ice on the south side of Gravesend Neck Road.

It’s a block long stretch of ice on the south side of Gravesend Neck Road.

Perhaps the most stark example of neglect was the Avenue Y underpass. A relatively high-trafficked sidewalk given the proximity of nearby Stop & Shop and other major businesses, a thick sheet of ice covered the length of the sidewalk. On the corner is an MTA substation, which was clear when we revisited it this morning. But, around the corner, on East 15th Street between Avenue Y and Avenue Z, the block-long MTA-owned easement had entirely escaped the shovel’s attention.

Apparently, despite its ownership, the MTA is not responsible for clearing snow from these properties.

“The MTA is responsible for cleaning three feet from the entrance of a subway station,” said MTA spokesperson Judy Glave. “Any other city street is the city’s responsibility.”

The sidewalk abutting the block-long MTA-owned lot on East 15th Street hasn't been shoveled.

The sidewalk abutting the block-long MTA-owned lot on East 15th Street hasn’t been shoveled.

According to Theresa Scavo, the chairperson of Community Board 15 whose borders include all of the locations noted in this article, clearing snow from city sidewalks is to be coordinated by both the Department of Transportation and the Department of Sanitation.

That’s a fact Scavo only recently found out when she held a meeting with representatives of each agency to help address the same problem on another set of city-owned properties – pedestrian overpasses spanning the Belt Parkway.

“East 12th Street, Coney Island Avenue. These overpasses, in the first snowstorm, there were kids walking to school and they were walking on ice. They were going to get hurt,” she said.

The overpasses are the subject of legislation introduced last March by Councilman David Greenfield, who also proposed the latest bill tasking city workers with clearing private property. Greenfield’s office said they will soon reintroduce the former legislation, which directs the city to create a database of more than 100 city-owned pedestrian overpasses, and state the agency responsible for removing snow.

Greenfield said when he first proposed the bill that these areas go uncleared because of bureaucratic confusion over responsibility.

“You get the blame game,” Greenfield said. “Every agency blames a different agency.”

Regardless of which agency is responsible, it’s not being done and that creates a clear double standard that penalizes residents while giving a pass to city agencies, according to Scavo.

“If you’re responsible, it should be cleaned within four hours, just like me. I’m responsible to clean in front of my home, and I believe everyone should be held to the same rule,” she said. “Four hours, and they should be out there cleaning.”

The Department of Sanitation and the Department of Transportation did not return requests for comment on this story.

Photos and additional reporting by Eric Jankiewicz.

Have you noticed city- or state-owned property that has not been cleared during the recent snow storms? Let us know in the comments!

The sidewalk has an incline at the Avenue V underpass, making it even more treacherous when covered in ice.

The sidewalk has an incline at the Avenue V underpass, making it even more treacherous when covered in ice.

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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    The City Of New York is the owner of the property running from Avenue Y south to Avenue Z on East 15th Street.

    http://a836-acris.nyc.gov/DS/DocumentSearch/BBLResult

    • frankiev

      Just saw people shoveling that path this morning.

  • BrooklynBus

    It is not the MTA’s responsibility because they don’t own the subway system. The City owns it. The MTA only leases it for $1 a year.

    What about the bus stops and bus shelters? Whose responsibility is that? DOT or MTA? Some of the bus stops have been totally ignored.

    I haven’t looked at the bus shelters though. Has CEMUSA done a better job than they did in previous years when we had heavy snow when they were totally ignored? Does anyone know?

    This is typical City hypocrisy. Give homeowners a summons for hairline cracks but ignore severely damaged sidewalks you own for 15 years like the ones near Borough Hall.

    • http://www.mybrooklyn.com/ MyBrooklyn

      City only knows how to extort money from people at any chance they get….when its they turn to be responsible they ignore it because there is no quick money to be made….

      • BrooklynBus

        Yet DOT claims that safety is their first priority. When a Queens neighborhood asked for a stop sign at an intersection they believed to be dangerous, perhaps ten years ago, DOT responded that they couldn’t place a stop sign there because no one had been killed there yet. Yes, safety is their first priority. Wait for someone to die, then take action.

    • ArnietheK

      I’m glad you mentioned the hazardous conditions at bus stops. I almost broke my neck yesterday on the ice surrounding the bus stop shelter at Avenue Z and East 19th Street. Other bus stops along Avenue Z didn’t look any better.
      I’ve been riding buses lately beause my car is encased in snow and ice courtesy of the Sanitation Department’s plows. Ironically, I am subject to a substantial fine if I shovel the snow into the roadway. Where then am I supposed to put it? My pockets are not that deep. Nor are they waterproof.

      • http://www.mybrooklyn.com/ MyBrooklyn

        Honestly I never seen anyone getting a ticket for throwing snow on the roadway I always do it and so many others…They say that in order to stress you our and have you worry all the time

        • ArnietheK

          You’re probably right. The Sanitation Police are too busy ticketing all those homeowners who don’t clean the street to concern themselves with me.

      • BrooklynBus

        So why don’t our elected officials go after DOT and CEMUSA for not doing their jobs? CEMUSA is raking in the dough with a lucrative contract for 20 years, but not doing their job. During all the years they have been maintaining bus shelters, I have seen a truck wash one on only one occasion.

        • ArnietheK

          I’ve contacted Chaim Deutsch’s office regarding the hazardous conditions at bus stops. He may do nothing but he can’t say he didn’t know about it a la Chris Christie.

  • frankiev

    No one shovels alongside the (parking) lot on the corner of Ave Z and E 16th Street. That’s a heavily walked path and very long.