2014-05-09 / Columnists

Rockaway Businesses - A Tale Of Two Recoveries

Official Point of View
By State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr.

It has become the tale of two recoveries – one business comes back from Superstorm Sandy and thrives, while another continues to fight for financial help and struggles. Local storeowners have laid their reputations and savings on the line to remain on the peninsula they know and love, and we should be doing everything we can to make sure they all get back to business as usual.

The Breezy Point Recovery Association formed after local business owners practically got ignored by FEMA during the rebuilding after Sandy. Few received various grants after filling out numerous applications, others are still working to get back into their original buildings and more continue to climb out of debt. For some, their building no longer exists.

Marilyn Harvey of Breezy Point Tour and Travel, and also founder of the recovery association, lost file cabinets, desks, computers and more in her office, and while cleaning up and rebuilding, insurance would not cover her loss of business. Marilyn’s situation is like many others’ still searching for assistance.

Residents have been promised small business loans, National Grid grants and even a chunk of funds from the ongoing Build It Back program, but so far to no avail. We are told the money is out there, and we need to do what we can to make sure it is directed to the right people – people like Marilyn and others in the Breezy Point Recovery Association.

Local businesses have long been the backbone of Rockaway and it’s a disgrace owners have been forced to jump through so many hoops just to restore their livelihoods and that of their employees. I can’t help but think of Madelaine Chocolate as I wrote that last sentence. But it’s the same old song we’ve been singing since October 2012, and it’s time to put it to an end.

Since the year began, the new city administration has brought new promises of recovery. City Comptroller Scott Stringer will be auditing the Build It Back program, and the program itself recently acquired new directors with new direction and vision. It is my hope that after months of promises, action will be seen.

The Beach 116th Street Partnership has banded together to get ready for the upcoming summer. Last summer, as they say, was a wash, but now many feel the commercial strip’s popularity has crept back, nearing if not reaching what it once was.

Mark Mina, owner of MSM/Elite Productions, suffered $1 million in damages and lost priceless memorabilia in a fire that took down his Rockaway Park storefront. After paying hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket and moving to a new Beach 116th Street location,

Mark’s production company has brought him back into the black, and the business corridor’s support system has kept morale alive. Mark prevailed through the storm, and though still recovering, said he is back in the black.

Despite the comeback along Beach 129th Street, Beach 116th Street, Rockaway Beach Boulevard and other business sites, the peninsula continues to need our help. We all know the Rockaways and its people are some of the most resilient, but that’s no excuse to let them get up on their own. It’s high time we get all businesses back to the prosperous level they have been seeking for over a year and end this tale of two recoveries.

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