INWOOD — The MTA is stepping in to make repairs to a long-neglected Dyckman Street A train station stairwell, and they say they'll be doing it on the stairwell owner's dime.
The MTA is blocking off the northwest stairwell of the subway entrance, located on Dyckman Street between Broadway and Seaman Avenue, to complete repairs over the next three months, officials said.
The stairwell will be closed through July 11, according to a sign posted at the construction scene.
The MTA plans to take the landlord, 4761 Broadway Associates, to court to recoup the cost of repairs, an agency spokesman said Monday.
The repairs that started Friday are the latest chapter in a long-running standoff between the MTA and 4761 Broadway over the condition of the steps. Both sides have said the other side was responsible for making the fixes to the crumbling stairs, which had to be partially sealed off after they became a breeding ground for trash, human waste and other filth.
A representative for 4761 Broadway did not respond to requests for comment. But in 2013, reps from the organization said that they expected the MTA to make all repairs, saying: “For nearly the past 30 years that we have owned this property, the MTA has been wholly responsible for cleaning, maintaining and repairing the stairs in the two subway entrances located in our building."
MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said Monday that its agreement placed the burden of repairing the steps on the landlord. He added that the MTA repeatedly notified the landlord of its duty to repair the steps before beginning the fixes.
"Responsibility for the cleaning and maintenance of the stairs belongs to the building as per a 1926 Easement Agreement," Ortiz said, adding that the agency has been leasing the stairwell since 1926. "The condition of the stairs got so bad that we had to close half of one stairway for safety purposes."
"Three letters have gone out to the building management about the condition of the stairs and reminding them that it was their responsibility to maintain," Ortiz said, adding that a fourth letter was sent on March 19 telling the landlord they had 10 days to begin the repairs or the MTA would do them and then sue.
In 2005, a college student took both parties to court after she slipped on the steps during a rainstorm, claiming the poor condition of the stairwell contributed to her fall.
Residents in the area said the steps have gotten progressively worse in recent years. "That area has become a repository for trash," Inwood resident Laura Daigen-Ayala said in 2013. "This entrance has always been dirty. If this was 86th and Lexington, do you think it would stay this way? Not one day. They would be fined."