Watch CBS News

Queens couple dealing with sidewalk hazard outside home they've lived in for 50 years

Sidewalk safety a concern for Queens couple
Sidewalk safety a concern for Queens couple 02:16

NEW YORK -- When we think of street safety, cars and traffic come to mind. But what happens when the hazard is the sidewalk?

A viewer wrote to CBS New York with this very problem, so we investigated the story in Richmond Hill, Queens.

Carol and Jack Wolf, both cancer survivors, have lived in the same house for 50 years. There's nowhere they'd rather be.

"We have people from all over the world here," Jack Wolf said. "You couldn't ask for better neighbors."

For them, living there has just one downside. They say that when the city planted a tree with a beautiful canopy overhead, it created a dangerous problem underfoot.

The tree's roots are lifting the sidewalk, creating a trip hazard for the neighborhood's many children and seniors and causing anxiety for Jack Wolf, who wears a prosthetic leg.

"I get very nervous when I come out to go anyplace," he said.

"The tree we love," Carol Wolf said. "I don't want the tree to come down. I just want my sidewalk fixed."

Again and again the couple has appealed to the city, which pledged to help and added them to a waitlist.

They've now been waiting more than a decade.

"So much for promises," Jack Wolf said.

"I think it's outrageous," public affairs counsel Corey Bearak said.

He argues that though sidewalks damaged by roots of city trees are now the responsibility of the Parks Department, it simply doesn't have the bandwidth to clear the long waitlist.

"The city has cut back on the Parks Department for years," Bearak said. "In the meantime, you have a lack of safety as a result."

In a statement, the city Parks Department told CBS New York, in part, "We anticipate being able to repair this location during the next fiscal year."

The city said the Wolfs have another option. They can apply for a tree work permit, hire their own contractor, pay up front, and file a claim with the comptroller's office for a reimbursement.

"That would cost me a lot of money that I don't have to do," Jack Wolf said.

For now, the Wolfs say they'll continue waiting for a level sidewalk and peace of mind.

You can email Elle with Queens story ideas by CLICKING HERE

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.