New York City

NYC Makes Man Spend $6,000 to Fix Sidewalk, Promptly Plans to Rip it Up

Apparently, it's asking too much for two city bureaucracies to communicate with each other before threatening a private citizen.


From the Department of You Can't Make This Stuff Up, Bronx resident Patrick Colletti is wondering what the hell he did to deserve the dystopian bureaucratic snafu he just encountered at the hands of two New York City agencies. 

Colletti told CBS2 News' Ali Bauman that he had been issued a summons by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and threatened with a fine if he didn't fix the cracks on the public sidewalks in front of his home earlier this year. So Colletti says he did his civic duty, in the form of over $6,000 spent on contractors and concrete, only to discover spray-painted markings on the fresh slab of sidewalk two weeks later.

The markings were put there by the Department of Parks and Recreation, denoting that the city intended to rip up that portion of the sidewalk to plant a new tree. Meanwhile, Colletti is left wondering if he's going to be reimbursed for the considerable pointless cost he incurred, though he shouldn't expect to find a sympathetic ear from the Parks Department, which told CBS2 through a spokesman that "all street trees are planted within the city-owned public right-of-way," which includes Colletti's doomed block of cement. 

Though government has been described by believers in central planning as "things we choose to do together," the Parks Department's admission that "There is no coordination between NYC Parks and DOT" suggests an update to the flowery cliche could be in order. Maybe something like "government is things it chooses to make you do and its agencies are under no obligation to do anything together."

Democratic city councilman Dennis Vacca — who has co-sponsored legislation trying to get relief for homeowners from the punitively good intentions of city tree-planters — said Colletti's predicament is "an example of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing." In 2013, Vacca told the Bronx Times, "Our city has so many empty tree pits, dead trees, and stumps that should be removed and replaced with new trees. If homeowners choose not to have a tree planted in front of their home, that should be their choice."

Vacca added, "If the city wants to plant more trees, which is a goal I support, we do not need to force homeowners to take one on their property when they do not want one."