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City mulls ownership of hundreds of private NYC streets

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Residents have raised concerns about the cost of maintaining them

Sylvan Terrace, in Washington Heights, is one of NYC’s hundreds of privately-owned streets.
Photo by Ben/Flickr

The city is mulling over a proposal that would allow it to take over jurisdiction of hundreds of privately-owned streets across the city, AM New York reports. While more high-profile private streets like Sylvan Terrace in Washington Heights and Washington Mews in Greenwich Village might have the resources, private streets in outer boroughs are struggling.

In the coming months, the city will begin surveying these streets, most of which are located in parts of Brooklyn and Queens, to determine whether they should qualify for city assistance. Many of the residents AM New York spoke with, who live on these private streets in neighborhoods like Sheepshead Bay and the Rockaways, expressed concerns about how hard it was to maintain them.

The study being undertaken by the city’s Department of Transportation comes after residents in these neighborhoods called on their elected officials to get help with maintaining the streets and the sewers that run along it. In many cases, AM New York notes, residents didn’t even know they were living on private streets due to the lack of public records.

That’s one of the things the DOT is looking to rectify. As part of its study, the DOT will use data provided by the Department of City Planning and the offices of all five borough presidents to create a map of these streets, and subsequently analyze how the city might go about acquiring them. This study is scheduled to be released by June 30, 2018.