2013-02-22 / Top Stories

BHPOA Looks Forward In Recovery

By Dan Guarino

Property owners and concerned Rockaway and Broad Channel residents alike attended the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association meeting on Wednesday, February 20th. More than 100 people came to the evening meeting held at PS 114 on Beach 135 Street. Some who attended noted the meeting proceeded with a calmer tone and lacked the rancor seen at recent community meetings. Many brought concerns about insurance, FEMA, future, planning, overall safety and communications. Guest speakers included Jill Weber, NYC Parks Administrator, Graybeards President Steve Stathis, Todd Minor of Friends of Rockaway, and Project Hope’s Todd Dickson. Other guest speakers were Congressman Gregory Meeks, State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., Councilman Erich Ulrich, Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder and Democratic District Leader Lew Simon.

Noting the larger than usual turn out, BHPOA President Hank Iori stated, “It’s very important we get out to all these meetings. We need to let our officials know we are here, we are interested and want to be part of the decision making process.” As an example he noted community input in the rebuilding of the PS 114 auditorium where the meeting took place, still smelling of fresh paint and sporting new seats. Iori explained storm waters had come in a few feet above the stage. He then gave a rundown of what various agencies are working on regarding Sandy recovery. This included the Department of Parks, Army Corps of Engineers, Sanitation, NYPD, FEMA and DEC. Captain Craig Adelman introduced himself by stating his foremost priority as the new 100th Precinct Commander was serving the community. “Family, friends, community,” he said, “Your family and friends are your community. This is what’s important.” Commenting on the change in precinct personnel, Adelman said, “You’ve got the same team in place- only the face of the quarterback has changed.” Stressing the importance of making Rockaway issues known, Senator

Meeks said, “You go to different places in the city, and they think everything is back to normal. “Now that we’ve passed the $51 billion aid package, they think we’re okay.” Meeks noted it was important to keep attention, and cameras, focused on the Rockaways so “people can see for themselves what’s going on here.”

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, echoing the need for community input in the rebuilding of the Rockaways, stated “You can’t come in here and just build without listening.”

Assemblyman Goldfeder, who suffered damage to his home and his office due to the storm, talked about issues with insurance companies and FEMA. He noted, as did several audience members, the lack of responsiveness by insurance carriers.

Goldfeder is proposing a ratepayers bill of rights which will require insurers to advise customers exactly what they are and not covered for. It will also establish reasonable timelines for claim resolution. Councilman Eric Ulrich announced that bulk debris pick up had been extended to March 18th. He will also be hosting a town hall meeting on February 26th from 7 to 9 p.m. at PS 114 at which the Department of Finance will be available to answer pressing tax questions. Steve Stathis spoke about the Graybeard’s post- Sandy relief work. Closing out the meeting NYC Parks Administrator Jill Weber gave a brief preview of her agencies restoration plans. She stated that Parks’ immediate mission is to make sure that the formerly storm devastated beach areas are “clean, safe and available.”Weber stated there will be “Programs, food and fun. We will have fun this summer. It’ll just look a little different.” She also gave information on plans for a baffle wall to run from Beach 126th Street to Beach 149 Street, which will allow for access to the beach and also provide a barrier for storm surges.The wall, to be constructed of pre-fab concrete slabs, would be slotted into anchoring ‘H’ shaped pylons and extend approximately four feet above the street grade level at the end of each block. Iori, expressing a forward looking view of Rockaway post-Sandy, noted “This is a time of tremendous opportunity.”

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