Tag Archives: Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder

Pol wants quicker Sandy recovery from state agency


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File Photo

The push for quicker Sandy recovery continues, and now the pressure is on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC).

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder requested Joe Martens, DEC Commissioner, and the agency expedite all “permits related to recovery projects in the Sandy-damaged communities of southern Queens” to “wherever possible.”

“Our families are working around the clock to recover and rebuild from Sandy and every agency on every level of government must do the same,” Goldfeder said.

Families throughout Howard Beach, as well as Broad Channel and the rest of the Rockaways, continue to wait on approval for permits from various agencies, including the DEC, Goldfeder said.

Additionally, pols and residents want to see repairs to the Rockaway boardwalk as well as the area’s baffle walls.

“We need NYS DEC to expedite all permitting for our boardwalk,” said John Cori, Rockaway resident and co-founder of the Friends of Rockaway, “especially the retaining wall that will serve as a protective barrier and help in mitigation efforts to prepare our community for future storms.”

The boardwalk and walls, although designed and constructed by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and the Economic Development Corporation, need DEC approval before rebuilding efforts can move forward.

“If there is a lesson to be taken from Superstorm Sandy, it is that we cannot afford to wait,” Goldfeder said in a letter to Martens.

“Our families have been through enough suffering and there is no excuse for even a moment’s delay,” he said.


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Queens College to study options for abandoned Rockaway Beach line


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THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

Transportation advocates have had resurrection on the mind for the abandoned Rockaway Beach line (RBL), and are now getting local support to see if their vision can become a reality.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder announced on Monday that Queens College will undertake a study to assess the proposed options for the tracks.

Along with a rail line revival, plans exist to convert the 3.5-mile long space to a public park, the QueensWay.

“The whole idea is to expose all possible options,” said Dr. Leonard Rodberg, chair of the Department of Urban Studies, which will conduct the study.

Starting next spring, graduate and undergraduate students will be able to take research courses geared towards the RBL, studying the community impact of each plan. They will consider census data, existing transportation patterns and more.

During the summer of 2014, roughly a dozen students will be hired as research assistants to do field work, going out in the community and surveying both the area and residents. Completion is projected for the end of the summer.

“Our goal here is to do what’s in the best interest of Queens,” Goldfeder said. “We’ve got to look at all options.”

Rail line advocates are hoping for a compromise, and several members of the Queens Public Transit Committee would like to find “some common ground.”

“When you look at the QueensWay, it’s a great idea,” said Phil McManus, committee chair. “I’m not anti-park, I just think we need the train first.”

McManus said that bringing back the 40-minute commute between the Rockaways and midtown, paired with a park could be the best bet.

“If you exclusively do a park without a train, I’m afraid that we’d lose the train forever,” he said.

“We’re willing to work with whatever possible. I want transportation for this line, and beautification.”

For the upcoming study, Goldfeder plans to provide a capital grant of $50,000 to $100,000 to help with infrastructure needs. The college’s department will also set aside money from their budget.

“We need to utilize the tools that we’ve got, much like the rail line,” Goldfeder said. “Hopefully this can lead to the next step.”

 

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Pol asks AG to investigate Sandy contractor fraud


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


Sandy brought a wave of fraudulent fixes to south Queens, and one elected official wants them wiped out.

Following the superstorm, many affected residents fell victim to fraudulent contractors who “promised to rebuild their homes, but have either left before completing the job or disappeared with [their] deposit without performing the necessary repairs,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder.

Goldfeder wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, requesting he “immediately investigate” and hold all out-of-state and local fraudulent contractors accountable.

“Residents who have spent their hard-earned money and savings to rebuild deserve to have the work done as promoted by their contractor,” Goldfeder said in his letter.

He said this is a “community-wide concern” in Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, Broad Channel and Rockaway and many are “still struggling to finish repairs left from the storm damage.”

This October, Schneiderman prosecuted a Long Island based organization which “used deceptive practices in an attempt to obtain business from victims” of Sandy.

G.C. Environmental, Inc. of Bay Shore was fined $40,000 after mailing more than 2,000 letters resembling State Department of Environmental Conservation notices of violation to property owners who had suffered petroleum spills as a result of the storm, warning victims of an impending fine if they did not seek repairs.

Additionally, in July, Schneiderman filed lawsuits against four service stations in Kings, Nassau and Suffolk County Supreme Courts for gas price gouging following the storm. The attorney general’s office reached settlements with 25 stations, and additional investigations are pending.
Schneiderman’s office did not return a request for comment regarding Goldfeder’s letter.

“It is of paramount importance that we continue to help homeowners and revive our communities,” Goldfeder said.

 

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106th Precinct gets backup


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office Of Councilmember Eric Ulrich

Backup is here, as the 106th Precinct added 16 new cops recently.

“They are a most welcomed addition to the community and we are very happy to have them,” said Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, the precinct’s Commanding Officer.

The precinct, which encompasses Ozone Park, Lindenwood and Howard Beach, has experienced an increase in car thefts and break-ins, which are up more than 65 percent from last year, according to the most recent NYPD crime statistics. Crime overall is up 20 percent.

However, the experienced new officers are ready to hit the ground running. Schiff said during their precinct orientation. They will be addressed by various community members and hear firsthand what concerns they have.

“We expect that they will quickly absorb the local flavor and perform admirably, making all of us proud,” he said.

The community and local elected officials have voiced both a need and a desire for more resources for the precinct. The NYPD team has struggled with limited resources and increasing concerns from residents, said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, who assisted in the push.

“More officers and a stronger police presence are necessary to combat rising crime statistics,” Goldfeder said. “More visibility on our streets will keep the community safe and strong.”

Additionally, Councilmember Eric Ulrich paid a visit to the new crew and is “so pleased that we are finally getting additional officers that we have been fighting for for so long,” he said.

“They will to a long way in keeping our community safe,” he added.

 

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Speed board installed near Lindenwood’s P.S. 232


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder

Speeders take note and slow down.

A new mobile speed board has been installed across the street from P.S. 232 in Lindenwood, right outside the bustling Lindenwood Shopping Center on 153rd Avenue.

“The Department of Transportation (DOT) has finally responded to our concerns,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, who requested a “traffic calming device” be brought into the area.

School officials, parents and community members have been asking and fighting for safer streets around the elementary school for years. Administration and faculty members frequently escort students across the busy intersection at 153rd Avenue and 83rd Street.

In September, State Senator Joseph Addabbo requested P.S. 232 receive speed cameras for a pilot program designed to nab speedy drivers around city schools.

Now, the DOT has stepped in and put up the temporary speed board, setting the speed limit at 25 miles per hour. The organization is still completing a study that will determine whether speed bumps are needed in the area. DOT’s School Safety Unit has also committed to coordinate with the school’s parents and students to identify other solutions.

Goldfeder said the speed board will “deter drivers from using this stretch of road as a personal speedway.”

“This is the first step in the right direction, but we must remain vigilant to protect our children and community,” he said.

 

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Pols: Fast track Rockaway boardwalk study


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File photo

The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation unveiled its plans to rebuild the boardwalk after it was destroyed by Sandy almost a year ago. The plans, however, do not include a seawall along Rockaway Beach – something the coastline community has been requesting for years.

“The first priority must be the safety and security of our families and homes,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder. “Our community has been demanding protective ocean barriers, including dunes and rock jetties for too long.”

Currently, the Army Corps of Engineers is performing a Rockaway Protection Study, including long-term protection measures, using a cost/benefit analysis to determine how to rebuild the devastated area. Now, Goldfeder and Senator Charles Schumer are calling on the group to expedite the study so these measures, such as a seawall and jetties, can be put in place as soon as possible.

Schumer said there is a “real concern” about coordinating long-term storm protection between Parks and the Army Corps and that a new, federally-funded boardwalk is able to accommodate these protection measures.

Additionally, if the Parks Department does include a seawall in its recovery plans, the Army Corps cost/benefit analysis will conclude that jetties and dunes are not needed for protection, said Schumer.

“Rockaway and its residents must not be left vulnerable in the event of a future storm,” Schumer said. “Now that New York City’s plans for the Rockaway boardwalk are underway, the Army Corps should fast-track their study so that New York City is aware of what protections will be put in place.”

The Army Corps’ study is underway along the shoreline from Beach 149th Street to Beach 19th Street, with the objective to find a long-term, cost-effective solution, potentially including dunes, stone-groins and other protective measures. The study is funded by federal money.

Currently, over 600,000 cubic yards of sand are being added to provide flood control between Beach 89th Street and Beach 149th Street.

Reconstruction of the boardwalk could start as early as later this year or early 2014, said the Parks Department.

 

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MTA plan includes restoring Rockaway Beach Rail Line


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder

The Rockaway rail line will soon be back on track.

The MTA released its 20-Year Capital Needs Assessment, which includes the restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line.

“This report is a huge step forward,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder.

Goldfeder petitioned Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Port Authority and MTA last year in hopes of bringing back the rail line.

Rockaway residents frequently advocate for the rail line’s restoration, holding rallies and forums within the community.

Philip McManus, founder of Queens Public Transit Committee, said bringing back the line, which hasn’t been active since the 1960s, is the “big idea” that will greatly benefit the peninsula and beyond.

“A train doesn’t go one way, it goes both ways,” he said. “It’ll open up access to more jobs, better jobs, more schools, better schools.”

The MTA’s Capital Needs Assessment is a blueprint that details the transit group’s vision to improve the city’s transportation infrastructure for 2015 to 2034. It noted the current lack of available “travel corridors” in the area.

The report says there is a need for “major reconstruction and/or full replacement” of the line and falls into its “Major System Improvement” category. Alternative alignments and technologies may also be considered to “better meet the needs of Rockaway customers and their communities.”

The Rockaway line carries A train service, which will run through the borough from Rockaway Park to Manhattan’s Penn Station. Previously, it provided roughly a 40-minute commute to Midtown. McManus said it will also open up Howard Beach to Woodhaven and is long overdue for the isolated community.

“You look at before the train was taken — Rockaway was a thriving summer community. There was a lot of business down here,” he said.

The rail line segment that runs over Jamaica Bay will be addressed in the 2025 to 2029 period and the over-land segment in 2030 to 2034, said the MTA report. McManus is glad to hear any timeline.

“Before there was no timeline, it could have been 50 years. I’m glad we finally got a 20-year life sentence,” he said. “But I’m hoping this life sentence gets reprieved and we can get it done in five years.”

 

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Howard Beach residents urged to sign up for Sandy Build it Back program before deadline


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder's office

Laura DeMarie continues to repair her Howard Beach home nearly one year after Sandy.

“The storm was very scary,” she said. “We saw the water pouring down our avenue. We had a sewer in our basement, it came halfway up our staircase.”

DeMarie, like the majority of her neighbors, needed to replace things both inside and outside of her 157th Avenue home.

She stayed the whole night that fateful Monday in October, “under a blanket, in the cold.”

Once the rain and wind subsided, DeMarie needed a new roof, new kitchen cabinets, furniture, appliances, garden tools, car and more in the home she shares with her elderly mother and sister.

She additionally had about six feet of water in her basement, but said she still hasn’t done anything to repair it because “it’s too much money.”

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

For the repairs thus far, DeMarie has used home insurance money, FEMA grants, Catholic Charities donations and roughly $5,000 of her own money. Most recently, she and her sister signed up for the city’s Build it Back program.

The recently designed program is meant to assist storm-affected homeowners, landlords and tenants by providing different pathways to help them return to permanent, sustainable housing by addressing unmet housing recovery needs.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder went door-to-door throughout Howard Beach to educate the unaware about the program and help them sign up before the September 30 deadline.

“Having been through this process personally, I know how many scams are out there and how many programs families have received,” Goldfeder said. “I understand the skepticism, so I wanted to personally go out and erase some of that fear.”

DeMarie signed up for Build it Back in July and has yet to see any results.

“We’d like some funds to help us along,” she said of the program. “I don’t know why they’re taking so long.”

Goldfeder said the program is “going slowly,” but credits the city with “trying to get all of their ducks in a row” to determine “families who need it the most” before they start handing out recovery funds.

“I understand and appreciate that people need the money right away. I also understand the need to get the program right,” he said.

He added that the percentage of homeowners in Howard Beach who signed up for Build it Back was significantly lower than the rest of the affected region.

“I think it’s important for every family that is in need of the money to make themselves whole again or to recover from the storm to sign up for the program,” he said.

As for DeMarie and her family, the waiting game continues.

“We’re just expecting a little help, not much,” she said.

 

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Howard Beach gets new senior housing location


| mhayes@queenscourier.com


Howard Beach is home to a new senior housing location, providing more than 80 units of affordable housing for the elderly.

Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development and Management Corporation, a century-old organization, has various housing sites through Brooklyn and Queens and recently completed renovations at the Cross Bay Boulevard location, formerly the Fineson Center.

“The opening of the Catholic Charities’ senior housing residence is a huge victory for the Howard Beach community and all of the residents in Queens,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder. “Our growing senior population can finally achieve the quality housing they deserve.”

All resident applications have already been accepted, and the applying period is closed, said a Catholic Charities official.

The Fineson Center, constructed as a private hospital in the 1960s, closed in the summer of 2009 to begin the conversion into a senior housing facility.

Catholic Charities additionally provides accommodations for the developmentally disabled, mentally ill and the isolated, according to its website. The official said this Howard Beach spot has additional units designated for people with disabilities.

Goldfeder said the new housing will also allow residents to keep “financial and economic independence” and remain “in their own backyard.”

“This building will finally provide a centralized location for our diverse senior community to meet under one roof,” he added.

The new facility, outside of housing units, will also have laundry facilities, resident lounges and offices. State Senator Joseph Addabbo also recently secured the return of a U.S. Mail collection box in front of the building.

There is not yet a set occupancy date for the new residents.

 

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Rockaway ferry service extended through January


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the EDC

Ferry service between the Rockaways and Manhattan has been extended yet again, all the way through to next year, January 31, said Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday.

This is the third extension for the water travel service, which most recently was pushed through the summer to Labor Day.

Since its initial launch in November post-Sandy, Councilmember Donovan Richards said the ferry has become many residents preferred method of travel between boroughs.

“The ferry provides an affordable access means of transportation for residents, and it’s also helping our businesses survive,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder.

The ferry, operated by Seastreak, departs from Beach 108th Street and Beach Channel Drive and stops at Pier 11 in downtown Manhattan and charges $2 for a one-way trip. Since its beginnings, the service has allowed for more than 120,000 passenger trips, according to city officials.

“I haven’t said this too recently, but I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for recognizing the struggles,” Goldfeder said.

He additionally said that there should be no concern over colder temperatures as fall and then winter approach.

“You look at ferry service across the city, and weather doesn’t affect ridership,” he said.

Goldfeder and Councilmember Eric Ulrich will host a press conference Thursday to call on mayoral candidates to support permanent ferry service.

Congressmember Gregory Meeks echoed this and said he hopes the city, based on its track record of previous extensions, will make “every effort to continue service beyond the January 2014 date.”

 

Updated Wednesday, August 21 at 3:35 p.m.

 

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QueensWay study moving forward


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association

Over three miles of abandoned railway could become the much-debated, yet eagerly anticipated, QueensWay Park for the borough.

The nonprofit Trust for Public Land introduced a design team on Tuesday, August 20 set to study the 3.5-mile greenway that was once the Rockaway Beach LIRR line, running from Rego Park to Ozone Park.

If approved and the project moves forward, the QueensWay would be double the size of Manhattan’s High Line, The Courier reported in December.

The year-long study, starting after Labor Day, will be conducted by WXY architecture + urban design and dlandstudio and will look at a variety of ways to convert the abandoned rail line into parkland, including engineering requirements, environmental impact and community feedback.

“The QueensWay is going to be New York’s next great park,” said Marc Matsil, New York state director of the Trust for Public Land. “Our mission is to protect land for people, and this is a perfect fit with that goal.”

The walkway will connect multiple communities and provide green space for 250,000 people in the borough, said Trust for Public Land officials. Art, sculptures and food from around the world will also be included.

Jack Friedman, Queens Chamber of Commerce executive director, said this initiative will provide a “much-needed boost” to the borough’s economy and local businesses.

The study will be funded by a $467,000 grant from Governor Andrew Cuomo as well as $140,000 from the Department of Environmental Protection and private donors.
However, not everybody is on board with the study, or the QueensWay itself.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder said he believes local residents would greatly benefit from “a complete restoration of the Rockaway Beach Line.”

“I am confident that any objective study regarding the best use for the abandoned rail line will conclude that a transportation option is the only real choice,” he said. “The current lack of public transit options in Queens is strangling our businesses and hurting our families.”

 

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Officials detail sand restoration plan for Rockaway Beach


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office's Flickr

Rockaway Beach is coming back, potentially better than before.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the Army Corps of Engineers, city agency officials and various elected officials on Thursday, August 15 to detail the sand restoration plan for Rockaway Beach.

The plan’s first phase will replenish 600,000 cubic yards of sand, while the second phase restores 3.5 million cubic yards to the beach that Sandy washed away.

“Beaches are a crucial defense against flooding and coastal storms,” Bloomberg said. “Now we’re working hard to strengthen those defenses.”

The 600,000 cubic yards is being pumped from Beach 149th Street down to Beach 89th Street. Dredging material in the water, located at the Rockaway Inlet, will clear a navigation channel that “hasn’t been cleared in a long time” while also bringing in “good quality sand” for the beach, said Colonel Paul Owen of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The 3.5 million cubic yards will stretch down the peninsula to Beach 19th Street.

“There’s a lot to be done and there’s great work going on — and we have a lot more to do,” Owen said.

However, residents say the project is a long time coming. For years, groups such as the Friends of Rockaway Beach and various civic associations have advocated for beach protection.

“It’s unfortunate it took a natural disaster for so many people to wake up to the problems that we’ve been facing in Rockaway for so, so long,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder.

When the project is complete, estimated to be by next Memorial Day, Owen said the total will be more sand than the Rockaways has seen since about 1970.

A series of protective walls will also be installed from Beach 126th Street to Beach 149th Street, Bloomberg said.

“Together, these measures will not only reverse damage to the beach done by Sandy, they will make the beach stronger than it was before the storm,” he said.

The roughly $300 million project is funded by federal Sandy relief funds.

Community plans are also helping to rebuild the damaged boardwalk.

The Parks Department has hosted several meetings in various parts of the peninsula to discuss what is needed going forward.

Boardwalk designs will be presented to the community in September, with construction starting potentially by the end of the year, said Parks Commissioner Veronica White.

“When we open the beach next year, Rockaway will be better than ever and that is a day that I am truly looking forward to,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich.

 

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Resorts World Casino welcomes full-time subway stop


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THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

This “one-of-a-kind destination” now has one-of-a-kind ease of access.

Resorts World Casino celebrated the grand opening of the $15 million subway station at the Aqueduct Racetrack, complete with a walkway to the casino.

“By plane, train or automobile, the excitement of Resorts World Casino is now accessible to all,” said Edward Farrell, president of Resorts World. “We built the station because we want it to be more convenient and we expect it to grow.”

The racetrack subway stop will allow the A train to pass through 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the Rockaways up to Inwood. Now nearly all Manhattan residents will be able to use the train to get to and from Resorts World in less than an hour. A SkyBridge walkway connects the stop to the casino through an enclosed, temperature-controlled path.

Prior to the renovations, the subway stop was an antiquated facility that only operated on race days. After its multi-million dollar makeover, the stop now meets all city safety codes and has elevator and stair access on both sides.

Calling Resorts World Casino “a great neighbor,” State Senator Joseph Addabbo the subway stop’s new addition continues the gambling center’s positive relationship with the community.

“[Resorts World is] a world-class partner in this community,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder. “They made an investment for the benefit of the entire community.”

Transportation to and from the casino also includes the Q37 bus and a shuttle between the facility and Jamaica Station. Later this year, there will be shuttle buses from Manhattan as well.

“I’m very proud and thankful we were able to pull this off,” Farrell said. “This is a very local, homegrown place.”

 

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Stringer wants to create Sandy Audit Bureau if elected comptroller


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THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Manhattan Borough President and City Comptroller candidate Scott Stringer announced a plan to create a Sandy Audit Bureau within the Comptroller’s office if elected.

The Sandy unit, a team of “professionals and experts,” would track the incoming $15 billion in federal aid and ensure the post-storm recovery money is spent “wisely and efficiently.”
Stringer said when that amount of money comes in, there must be a “laser focus on every single dollar.”

“Nine months after Sandy, the winds have subsided but we still have to confront the challenge of protecting our shoreline communities from the next great storm,” Stringer said. “The Comptroller’s office is uniquely positioned to serve as the city’s watchdog over all Sandy-related funds.”

Furthermore, Stringer plans to provide an online resource, The Sandy Tracker, that will allow residents to follow how the city is spending storm-related dollars. In the event of fraud or abuse, there will be an established 24-hour hotline for taxpayers to report any instances of the sort.

“Since Sandy, the Rockaways has seen an increased flow of resources dedicated to addressing post-storm issues,” said State Senator James Sanders. “Merely having these resources, however, is not enough. There needs to be a system of accountability.”

Sanders, Councilmember Donovan Richards and Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder joined Stringer during his announcement on Tuesday, August 6 and reiterated their endorsements for Stringer’s candidacy.

“Every penny that was raised for Sandy victims and every government dollar that was spent during the relief and recovery effort must be accounted for,” Goldfeder said.
Richards said his constituents simply want “a hand up, not a hand out.”

“This is a common sense bureau,” he said. “During our recovery, accountability and transparency are extremely important.”

 

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Program may bring $100 million to help rebuild Sandy-damaged southern Queens


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Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program could bring roughly $100 million to help southern Queens rebuild bigger and better after Sandy.

Rockaway is set to receive $60 million, $13 million for Broad Channel and $20 million for Howard Beach and Hamilton Beach for “protection funding,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder.

However, through this unique program, community leaders, experts and officials in each neighborhood will form committees to determine just how the rebuilding will pan out.

“New York’s effort to build back better must be a two-pronged approach,” Cuomo said, “with the state not only leading critical infrastructure and broad investment strategies but also providing localities the resources they need to invest in their own future.”

Goldfeder said community members know their community better than anybody else and there is “no such thing as a bad idea when it comes to storm mitigation.”

“If you allow the community to have a voice, you can get things done but ensure that it’s in line with what the community desires,” he said.

Committees are still being finalized in each individual area, but the state would like to receive rebuilding proposals within eight months.

“Arguably you could see shovels in the ground within a year,” Goldfeder said.

 

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