2013-07-26 / Front Page

$60 Million More On The Way

Once NY State Figures Out Rockaway
By Kevin Boyle

Although New York State has directed most of its energy and monies to counties outside New York City since Sandy, Governor Andrew Cuomo is now offering significant money to Rockaway and Broad Channel. It is possible that more than $60 million dollars will make its way from the State as part of the new program.

The good news is the money. The less-thangood news is the State’s unfamiliarity with the Rockaway peninsula which was made apparent in its press release.

On Thursday, July 18th the Governor launched the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program, an initiative that will allow communities hit hard by Sandy “to create and implement locally-created and federally funded strategies for rebuilding and strengthening their communities.”

The State program is designed to assist 102 severely damaged communities to develop comprehensive and innovative rebuilding plans. According to the Governor, the plans will be driven by the needs of each community and developed by planning committees of community leaders, experts, and officials. Grant amounts will be based on FEMA assessed damage levels as well as applications for new infrastructure and other mitiga- tion, and will be awarded once the community’s plan is complete and submitted to the State for approval.

It is expected that in each Community Reconstruction Zone (CRZ) a group of 9-15 “community leaders” will form a committee and devise plans that will be submitted to the Governor by April, 2014. In its release, the State offered the dollar amount each community would be receiving and said each community is supposed to have a planning committee. And that’s where the State seems to show its poor understanding of Rockaway.

Of the 102 communities, the State has indicated seven of them are in Rockaway and Broad Channel. They are: Breezy Point, Roxbury, Neponsit, Belle Harbor, “Rockaway,” and Far Rockaway and Broad Channel. The State has included “Rockaway” as its own community. There is no indication whether Edgemere or Arverne are part of “Rockaway” or Far Rockaway, for example. Rockaway Park is not listed though a large part of that community is west of Beach 116th Street as are Belle Harbor and Neponsit.

Furthermore, the State listed dollar amounts for each community and is mandating that planning groups be formed for each. For example, Belle Harbor and Neponsit would have separate planning committees. Belle Harbor is in line to receive $10 million dollars and Neponsit $3.6 million. Breezy Point and Roxbury are also considered separate communities and would have to have their own planning committees. Breezy is in line to receive $16 million and Roxbury $3 million. “Rockaway” is in line to get $16.5 million but its area is undefined. The State has allotted $5.5 million for Far Rockaway but does not define where Far Rockaway begins.

Soon after the Governor’s announcement, some locals were quick to ask how committees would be formed and how chairpersons would be chosen. When the State started getting these questions and others about committees and neighborhood divisions, it seemed to realize that Rockaway is its own place. Most questions directed to the State were soon answered with “that’s under review.”

As The Wave went to press, one solution being considered is to split the peninsula in two with one planning committee for the west and another for the east. Broad Channel would remain its own community. Under such a scenario, the west end would receive approximately $33 million dollars, Far Rockaway $22 million, and Broad Channel $6 million dollars. The disparity in the amounts reflects FEMA’s statistical breakdown of damage in each area.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, who made the trip to Albany, said he recognizes the current challenges but is fully optimistic that geographic challenges and planning committee issues will be resolved and that Rockaway and Broad Channel will emerge “stronger and better than ever.”

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