Monday, April 23, 2007

Fix the 215th St. Stairs--NOW

A long-time resident of Park Terrace East was hospitalized this week after an incident in Inwood that left her with severe lacerations to the legs and face. Was it from a mugging? A car accident? No, she was a victim of the extreme state of disrepair of the steps rising west of Broadway at 215th Street.

The 215th Step-Street, as it is officially known, consists of no fewer that 11 flights of stairs, and is a pedestrian thoroughfare for residents of the Park Terrace area and others going between Broadway and the parks above. But in recent years it has become a treacherous path, as the stairs have crumbled and cracked with age. Landings have poor drainage and routinely flood, creating hazardous conditions which only worsen in winter when the pools of water turn to ice. Many of the pre-WWII era lamps are broken, leaving stretches of the steps in darkness at night. Hand railings are only partially usable.

And so it is that last Friday an Inwood resident had to be taken away in an ambulance after tripping on a hole in one of the steps and tumbling down.

Local activists have been calling for the City’s Dept. of Transportation (DoT) to completely reconstruct the 215th Step-Street since at least 1999. In 2005 Assemblymember Adriano Espaillat allocated $300,000 toward the project, and the Manhattan Borough Commissioner of DoT, Margaret Forgione, came to the steps for a photo-op with the Assemblyman in October of that year.

But there’s been little movement on the project by DoT in the year and a half since that picture was taken. This past September Community Board 12 passed a resolution imploring DoT to expedite the reconstruction (I chair the CB12 Traffic and Transportation Committee, which produced the reso). Today it’s still not even clear what the total cost of the project will be, let alone where all the funds will come from or when the work will begin. We need to let DoT know that our community will not tolerate further delay. I urge you to write to Commission Forgione directly (c/o NYC Dept. of Transp., 59 Maiden Lane, 35th Fl., NY, NY 10038) to demand that the reconstruction of the steps be put on a fast track once and for all.

Every day that the reconstruction is delayed means further deterioration of the already hazardous conditions. Last Friday’s incident wasn’t the first time blood was spilled on the 215th St. stairs. And if the community board, local officials and DoT don’t come together to take action quickly, it won’t be the last.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


It was a pleasure speaking with you at Laura's meet and greet. I had no idea about the situation with the request for repairs on the step street - one that alarms me, because I live one door down from them and am going to have to use them even as I walk on crutches following foot surgery in about a month's time. I'll certainly write to the Dept. of Transportation about this issue.

Thanks for the post,


11:17 AM  

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