By Douglas Feiden / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Fed-up Inwood residents have been waiting since 1999 for the city to rebuild the neighborhood’s crumbling 215th Street Steps — but the $4.5 million project is finally set to begin next January.
After 13 unlucky years of delays, false starts and dashed hopes, the once-majestic passageway rising from Broadway to Park Terrace East will be returned to its past grandeur by the spring of 2014, officials told the Daily News.
Etched into the so-called Step Street — a block-long staircase built on a slope too steep for a road — will be inspirational inscriptions like this one from the Rev. Martin Luther King:
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Ever since the 1970s, neighbors have lamented the decay of the sweeping stairway, which is now marred by wobbly rails, cracked steps, busted lamps and disintegrating landings that flood whenever it rains.
“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” said Edna Reilly, an 80-something, retired teacher who lives two blocks away. “I must have tripped on those broken stairs a dozen times.”
State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who also lives atop the Steps and is vying for Rep. Charles Rangel’s Harlem seat, was in his second term as a state assemblyman back in 1999 when he secured $100,000 in seed money to reconstruct the stairway.
“It’s a pet peeve of mine that it’s dragged on for far, far too long,” he said. “But finally, there’s some good news.”