By Tara Vocino
At long last, a resident who for decades endured flooding and decaying infrastructure received some good news from the city’s Disability Commission at its meeting at City Hall last Tuesday night.
Resident Rocco Falzone, 74, of 55 Tuscano Ave., has a narrow sidewalk that was cut from 48″ to 27″ along the 15-house residential street. He believes that it was cut when Caruso Court, an adjacent street, was built so that cars could make the turn more easily. It is impassable for people with wheelchairs, crutches or baby carriages, according to Falzone. It’s been the case since the mid-’90’s, he added.
“My 95-year-old mother, Josephine, fell off the sidewalk,” Falzone said. “Company came to my house and also hit the retaining wall when they got out of their car. I’m doing the city a favor, because they’re subject to a major lawsuit.”
In response, Disabilities Commission Chairman Ralph DeCicco explained his take on why it’s taking so long. DeCicco said they evaluate imperfections that lie underneath the surface using sonar waves, and although the sidewalk might look okay, it’s what underneath that counts. “It’s a federal legislation matter,” DeCicco said. “It’s higher than a local or even state level.”
DeCicco explained sidewalk widening is performed through Capital Improvement Project (CIP) using state Chapter 90 money as needed, adding that they’d have to redo the whole sidewalk, not just Falzone’s portion.
Like DeCicco, Disabilities Commission Vice Chairman Rick Freni sympathized with Falzone, adding that he couldn’t live there, and it’s a horrible living situation, resembling a swimming pool when it floods. “This picture tells a thousand words,” Freni said, referring to a picture that Falzone presented him of Corine Sicuso having difficulty getting her baby carriage through. “Hopefully, it won’t fall on deaf ears any longer. I wish you well.”
DeCicco said Mountain Avenue and the area near the high school had their streets’ sidewalk redone recently, reinforcing that it had nothing to do with being near a school, but rather what is underneath the sidewalk.
Falzone replied that there is most likely water underneath his sidewalk from severe flooding during heavy rainstorms. But a test would have to be performed to confirm it.
After the meeting, Falzone said he is pleased with their responses and that they’re all on the same page. “I don’t think they’ll redo the street,” Falzone said. “If they do, I’ll be dead by then. That’s not the solution.” Falzone thinks that the city taking a portion of his driveway to widen the sidewalk would be a better solution.
DeCicco said he thinks that since the other projects on Mountain Avenue and near the high school were recently completed, he believes that Falzone would be first on the list in regards to Chapter 90 money distribution. “I can go with that,” Falzone said, who also thanked the Arrigo administration for their assistance.
Handicapped placards and parking spots
During the hour-long meeting, DeCicco reminded people not to drive with a handicapped placard in the mirror, as they could receive a $50 ticket. He also asked people to be considerate and not park – or wait – in handicapped spots. “They’re there for a reason,” DeCicco said. “If you see someone doing it, don’t confront them, but call the police and they’ll handle it.”
Tara Vocino may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.