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Tree problem - ?Jul 14, 2007


We have a large, mature tree in front of our bldg. It's in a standard tree pit near the curb. The roots pushed up the concrete next to the tree which is 2" higher on one side than the rest of the sidewalk. You can see soil under it.

We're doing sidewalk repairs soon. No accidents (yet) but people could trip on the raised concrete if they don't look as they step on/off the curb. It can't be grinded down, and we could patch around it but it would still be raised. If someone tripped and was hurt we could have a lawsuit.

All - Trees are city property. Should we call the Parks Commission, explain our problem and see if they'd replant the tree elsewhere and plant a new tree for us? The roots are so big and compacted they may not be able to remove it without harming/killing it. The sidewalk would have to be repaired if they put in a new tree. Since we're repairing it soon anyway, this would be a good time to do this.

Opinions, other suggestions?

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Tree - boardnewbie Jul 14, 2007


I am not a legal expert but a few years back I twisted my ankle very badly on a sidewalk that had tree roots pushing up under it and the concrete was cracked. After calling the city, they told me it was the landlord's responsibility for the sidewalk in front of their building. I informed that building's Board President who said it was the city's responsibility. Within a year, that whole tree was gone and the sidewalk had been re-cemented and the reason I assume was that some other pedestrian had tripped or fallen and had sued that co=op. We have some badly pitted sidewalk in fron of our co-op and I have been trying to persuade the rest of the Board that this is a real liability.

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Tree - Larry Jul 15, 2007


The landlord is responsible for the sidwalk in NYC. We had someone trip on the grating we have around are the trees. The grating was being pushed up by the roots of the tree. Our insurance took care of the suite. We had the sidewalk replaced and had them cut the roots to level the sidewalk before cementing.
Better to kill the tree rather then having someone get hurt or another law suite.

By the way the tree is alive and well and the side walk is level.

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Reply to Larry re: tree - BP Jul 16, 2007


Larry - Your post said you "had them cut the roots to level the sidewalk before cementing." I assume that means the people who did the cementing cut the tree roots. Did you get City permission for that? It's my understanding that you're not supposed to do anything to street or park trees, and if any tree work has to be done the City sends someone to do it. Please explain. Thanks.

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Tree reply to BP - Larry Jul 16, 2007


When we had our sidewalk done we hired a contractor to do the job and told him we need the sidewalk leveled at the locations that the roots we pushing up. He was a legit contractor with lic.,insurance,etc. we did not tell him how to level the sidewalk. He took care of it. I just know how he did it.

This was over five years ago, the sidewalk is level,the tripping hazard is gone and the trees are alive and well.

you are correct you are not to touch the city trees

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dead tree. - sally Jul 24, 2007


i am sure it will damage the tree. one solution woudl have bene to simply make a larger tree pit.

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Reply to Sally re: trees - BP Jul 25, 2007


Sally, the tree I mentioned in my first post whose bulging roots have caused our sidewalk to uplift has been there for ages. A resident told me it was there when she moved in our bldg in 1962 and it was an adult tree even then. There were very few street trees until the 1930s so it could be 70-75 years old. It's thriving but its massive roots are partly under our sidewalk and now causing it to uplift.

Street trees are City property so I assume the City planted it, and only City parks people are allowed to tend street trees (except for city residents who can take a course in tree care and become "Citizen Pruners".) Our tree is in a standard 5ft x 5ft tree pit. We didn't build it when the tree was planted long ago, and I don't think we're allowed to enlarge the tree pit. I think you need City permission or City parks people would do it after they inspect it and if they decide it's the best thing to do. But knowing how NYC works, who knows how long we'd have to wait to get a reply or some action on this.

At this point, our concern is fixing our uplifting sidewalk so that it isn't a hazardous condition.

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Tree roots - Dinja Jul 25, 2007


I've had a bit of experience with the City and tree beds. Unlike most city agencies, Parks do respond fairly quickly. Best to make a call, keep a record of all conversations and and hope no harm comes to the tree. When that happens they do come very quickly!

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To Sally Dead Tree - Larry Jul 25, 2007


It will not kill the tree, it is done all the time. Our trees are fine.

How big can you make the tree hole ?? Does't make sense.

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Tree - Larry Jul 15, 2007


The landlord is responsible for the sidwalk in NYC. We had someone trip on the grating we have around are the trees. The grating was being pushed up by the roots of the tree. Our insurance took care of the suit. We had the sidewalk replaced and had them cut the roots to level the sidewalk before cementing.
Better to kill the tree rather then having someone get hurt or another law suit

By the way the tree is alive and well and the side walk is level.

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Tree - AdC Jul 14, 2007


Unless you knock the door, you will not get an appropriate answer. Usually, you are responsible for the sidewalks. However, since there is a tree that belongs to the city or to some other jurisdiction, you do well notifying the city.

In the meantimme you should do some remedial work: marking the pavement with some paint to indicate a dangerous condition or even use blacktop to build some sort of ramp to eliminate the step.

In our case, the tree did not belong to the city but to the county since our building is on a county road. The co-op asked permision to cut the root responsible for lifting the sidewalk and the co-op sent photos of the condition. It also explained to the city that it had replaced the cement slab twice but the co-op could not be changing slabs every other year.

The city came and first placed compacted asphalt to build a a ramp as mentioned before, a year later the city came and replaced the cement slab. The city did not want to do anything with the tree because it was not its property.


AdC

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Re: Tree problem - ? - AR Jul 16, 2007


Both Larry and AdC make good points.

The landlord is responsible for the sidewalk in NYC; however, if you call the appropriate department, you will get action.

I advise against the marking of the area without some remedial repair. The blacktop is good if you don't want to go for the $1,200 to replace the single slab (1500 for 2). But realize the when you make any remedial repair that is not permanent, you are saying that you are aware of an existing danger and are accepting some liability for not remedying/abating the hazard.

You don't really want to start hacking at roots; because, in addition to other reasons, you are compromising the balance and integrity of the tree... a professional should do this, not a mason. The contractor, if he knows what he is doing, may "shave" the root slightly without causing it damage to manipulate it.

If there is an open violation on the sidewalk, it is an instant lawsuit loss - according to recent case law. But no matter how you slice it, if someone falls, you get sued... God Bless America!

~AR

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tree/sidewalk. (to BP & Larry) - Fat Nickie Jul 16, 2007


I was aware of a similar situation a few years back (not my property). Someone got the bright idea to cut the roots on the trees as they were pushing up a grateing around them. Guess what someone snapped some photos and called the city. It became a big mess then. I would say before you make a decision keep a log of who you contacted, take photos, and get sound advise.

FN.

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Trees (Fat Nickie) - Larry Jul 16, 2007


Your idea is ok if you have months or years to contact the city about tree planting etc. It takes forever. If you replacing the side walk the contractor knows what to do to level the sidewalk.
they just cut the roots with a circular saw and proceed with the job. The co-op job is to tell the contractor you want a new sidewalk and you want it level. They know what to do.

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Forgetaboutit - AR Jul 16, 2007


Just to clarify for everyone
are you saying... it's sort of like the Soprano's?

You just say, "Make it go away"
then Forgetaboutit...
What happens after that you don't want to know...

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Tree/sidewalk (to Larry/AR) - FN Jul 16, 2007


Quiet the opposite, proceede with caution. Of course it can be taken by taking the correct steps.

FN.

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I know... - AR Jul 16, 2007


Sorry, I was being facetious... It's Monday :-)

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Tree (To AR) - FN Jul 16, 2007


I will let it slide this time AR. I quick off the blocks.

FN.

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