”We Might Have to Sue the City”: Falling Rock Crushes Cars in Inwood
Originally published in The Uptowner as “We Might Have to Sue the City”: Falling Rock Crushes Cars, Reduces Parking”
A large boulder fell from a rock wall and crushed two cars parked outside Fort Tryon Park in Inwood last month. The city parks department said the slab that fell on Bennett Avenue measured 15 feet long and six feet wide.
“I thought it was two things at first – thunder and a car crash,” said Sal Iannello, 70, who lives in the building across the street.
One of the cars, a 2004 white Jeep Cherokee SUV was totaled. Now its owner, Aleksandra Fleming, says “we might have to sue the city.” Her auto insurance barely covered what she still owes the dealer. Now carless, she’s left with only a couple of thousand dollars with which to replace it.
“We are left with nothing,” said Fleming, 35, who works as a personal trainer and lives in Inwood.
She described finding large rocks and boulders in the seats of the car, which was parked legally. But it could have been worse. “My kids were in the car in the morning,” said Fleming.
The parks department said via email that it has cordoned off the affected part of the street until it has determined what to do about the problem. It sent engineers to inspect the wall.
”They spent the better part of the day here,” Iannello said.
A department spokeswoman said that an initial inspection showed that the rock fall might have been caused by “chronic water intrusion,” water seeping into tiny cracks in the rock, putting the structural integrity of the entire wall in question.
Roots from surrounding vegetation may also have made the wall unstable, along with rainy weather, the department said.
The parks department last inspected the wall three years back as part of its regular wall inspection program. “That’s a kind of a long time ago,” said Fleming.
But while she’s happy to see that the city has closed the dangerous part of the street, “after the fact it doesn’t matter,” she said. She think the parks department should have acted sooner.
Ebenezer Smith, district manager for Community Board 12, chose not to comment on the wall’s possible dangers, but called the incident “something that needs to be followed up.”
Engineers from the parks department are investigating continuously, the spokeswoman said.
Meanwhile, the rock fall leaves Bennett Avenue residents with less space for their cars.
“They just put up those signs after it happened,” Iannello said, pointing to bright red “No standing anytime” signs that have appeared on both sides of Bennett Avenue. “We lost about 25 parking spots.”