Tag Archives: Phil Goldfeder

Rockaway train line would serve half a million riders a day, says study


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Throwing a wrench into plans for the QueensWay park, a new study claims the restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line would generate nearly half a million rides a day.

“The rail line would connect north and south Queens like no other [form of transportation],” Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder said at a press conference in Queens College Monday.

“The results of this study clearly show that reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line is the best, most cost-efficient way to decrease commute times, improve access to existing parkland and grow our small businesses in Queens.”

The study, “A community impact study of proposed uses of the Rockaway Beach Branch right of way,” surveyed thousands of residents and assessed transportation and park needs in the surrounding communities of the rail line.

If reactivated, the study says, the rail line will ease congestion and commute times, and connect north and south Queens in a way that is currently not available with existing subway lines.

The project was student-led under the watch of Dr. Scott Larson, director of the office of community studies at Queens College.

“We did not come to the conclusion of what the best use for the land would be. That wasn’t the point of it,” Larson said. “We did it to add to the debate and provide objective information.”

A summary of the study reads: “The Rockaway Beach Branch line presents a unique opportunity as a potential transportation improvement. The effect would be faster travel between southern Queens, including the Rockaways, and northern/western Queens, Midtown Manhattan and points north.”

It goes on to mention that while ridership in south Queens is low compared to other parts of the city, commute times are long and the restoration of the line could lead to positive savings in travel times for the riders.

The rail line has been out of commission since the 1960s. If the rail line was seen as the most viable option for the land, it would cost about $700 million to fully restore it.

Currently, there is a debate on whether the land should be used to restore the transit line, make access to the QueensWay, or use the land for both transportation and park features.

The QueensWay would cost about $120 million to fully build out. Advocates for the QueensWay say the land would better be used as parkland rather than for transportation.

“The QueensWay would be free to everyone,” said Mark Matsil, a representative from the Trust for Public Land. “We have support from many elected officials. The QueensWay is economically feasible.”

Matsil said they are in the process of raising funds for the design phase of the QueensWay.

But Goldfeder believes that more and improved transit in Queens is a top priority for the borough, and not using this existing infrastructure would be a waste.

“Complete restoration of the rail line will increase transit options for every resident in Queens and NYC, create quality jobs, boost our economic development, ease commutes and congestion and clean our environment by taking thousands of cars off the road,” said Goldfeder. “I urge the MTA to include restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line in their next capital plan.”

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Plans released for possible QueensWay


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of thequeensway.org

It’s the Queens way.

A 3.5-mile stretch of recreational, walking and biking trails is planned for central and southern Queens as part of a multi-million dollar proposal that has coined the name, QueensWay.

“This will be a wonderful park for Queens,” said Will Rogers, president of The Trust for Public Land.

The QueensWay plans, proposed by W X Y architecture + urban design, will add a mix of new recreational and cultural opportunities and nature trails for the borough, said the Friends of the QueensWay.

The path, if built, will cross through the neighborhoods of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Glendale, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Ozone Park, affecting over 322,000 people living within a mile of it.

In the plans, there are proposed areas for ecology and education, where planners are hoping to build an outdoor classroom for children to be able to learn the biodiversity in Queens.

Also, there will be two sets of trails for bicyclist and pedestrians to ensure the safety of everyone who uses the QueensWay.

Furthermore, there are plans for basketball courts, a skate park, habitat wetlands, arts-related programs and a gateway entrance from the QueensWay to Forest Park.

“Parks are too often neglected and QueensWay would offer more access to open space and parkland,” said state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky. “Parks provide an economic benefit to local business, retail establishments and restaurants and people of all ages would be able to enjoy the recreational opportunities which this new green space would provide.”

The estimated cost for the QueensWay is $120 million and, if started, will take three to five years to build.

Although it has the backing of many elected officials and community leaders, some feel the narrow stretch of former rail line could be put to better use.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder is a staunch advocate for the restoration of the Rockaway Beach rail line, which once ran on the property being looked at for the QueensWay. He has formed a coalition to fight to get it back.

“The QueensWay and Trust for Public Land have wasted taxpayer dollars on expensive, out-of-state consultants and one-sided studies that don’t actually represent the interests or needs of Queens’ families,” Goldfeder said. “Our growing coalition, including the MTA, will continue the fight to expand transit in Queens while easing commutes, creating jobs, cleaning the environment and expanding our economic development.”

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20-mile bike ride benefits local nonprofits


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYFAC/Dominick Totino Photography

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More than 200 cyclists came out on Saturday for the inaugural “Loop,” a 20-mile bike ride that raised nearly $15,000 benefiting the New York Families for Autistic Children Foundation (NYFAC) and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

“It was a great ride. We had a good time,” said Joe Mure, who sits on the board of directors for JDRF and is also a trustee of NYFAC. “I think this was a great cause and a great reason to come out and get a little exercise.”

Riders started their route at the NYFAC building on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach. After the ribbon was cut by state Sen. Joe Addabbo and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, riders took off and journeyed over three bridges in two boroughs and then back to the NYFAC building where there was a celebratory barbecue.

“Our first annual Loop was a great success,” said Andrew Baumann, president and CEO of NYFAC. “So we’re already getting ready — mark your calendars for next July.”

 

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Lindenwood hosts ‘Wash for Autism’


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

20140622_130627 (1)

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Over $10,000 was raised by the New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC) at the car “Wash for Autism” in Lindenwood on Sunday.

Along with volunteers, staff and board members of NYFAC washed over 100 cars, including those of state Sen. Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, in the parking lot of the Queens County Savings Bank on 153rd Avenue. NYFAC also benefited from the annual car show in the lot, which featured nearly 30 classic cars and hot rods. The money raised by the organization was aimed at bettering the lives of those with autism.

“It was a great day and a great event,” said Andrew Baumann, president and CEO of NYFAC. “The community once again came out to show its support.”

 

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‘Eyesore’ no more; Coleman Square to get more garbage pickups


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

 SALVATORE LICATA

Updated Thursday, June 12, 11:50 a.m.

The Department of Sanitation said it will improve clean-up efforts at the Coleman Square Station in response to a letter from a politician describing the square as an “eyesore.”

The collection of garbage will increase from two days a week to three and there will be an additional litter basket added to the area in order to improve conditions at the transportation hub, according to Kathy Dawkins, a spokeswoman for DSNY.

“After careful consideration, Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia has approved an additional litter basket collection for the Coleman Square Station in Howard Beach,” Dawkins said.

Along with the additional pickups, DSNY said it will monitor the area making sure efforts are correcting the condition.

Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder said in his letter that conditions at Coleman Square presented a public health concern because overflowing garbage was attracting birds and rats who feed on the trash.

“I applaud the Department of Sanitation for their quick response to my letter and for their immediate action to keep our community clean,” he said.

 

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Government officials to host Build It Back reps


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

SALVATORE LICATA

The long, dragged-out process of filling out applications and following up with Build It Back may finally get a little easier.

In an effort to better accommodate residents who were affected by Superstorm Sandy, Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder and state Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. will host Build It Back representatives in their local offices, so residents can meet directly with Build It Back officials and learn exactly what they have to do to finalize their applications for the government-subsidized grant.

“There is a lot of confusion surrounding the Build It Back program,” Goldfeder said.

The representatives will file paperwork, investigate individual cases and provide a case manager for each resident. Making an appointment is strongly encouraged but walk-ins are welcomed.

“I am thankful Build it Back has people in the Rockaways, but residents off of the Peninsula were affected as well, and they should be able to get help in their own neighborhood,” Addabbo said.

At Addabbo’s office, located at 159-53 102nd St., representatives will hold meetings every Thursday beginning June 5, from 1 to 4 p.m. Appointments can made by calling 718-738-1111.

At Goldfeder’s offices, located at 2-14 Beach 96th St. and 108-14 Cross Bay Blvd., representatives will alternate between offices beginning with the Rockaway office on Thursday, June 5, from 1 to 4 p.m. Appointments can be made by calling 718-945-9550.

 

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Goldfeder demands cleanup of Howard Beach ‘eyesore’


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

Garbage bags, cigarette butts and an overflowing trash can greet commuters and locals in Coleman Square every day, charged a politician who is demanding a cleanup of the area.

Given the large volume of people passing through the Howard Beach square to jump on the A train, garbage pick-up and removal has become a major issue surrounding the two-block square, Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder said.

“There are simply not enough trash cans or a reliable pick-up schedule to accommodate the volume of litter that is produced in this area,” Goldfeder said. “The Coleman Square Station constantly remains an eyesore for our community.”

Goldfeder has sent a letter to the NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY), requesting that there be additional trash cans added to the area along with more frequent garbage pick-ups in an effort to clean up the mess that has plagued the square.

The square currently has just one DSNY trash can which is constantly overflowing with garbage. It is common to see empty bottles and littered papers blowing right by the memorial war shrines that are set up in the square.

“It is the obligation of the Sanitation Department to provide more cans and more frequent pick-ups to support the volume of traffic at Coleman Square,” Goldfeder said. “Our families deserve to live in a community where they can comfortably enjoy the summer weather outdoors without being surrounded by unsightly garbage.”

Goldfeder is waiting for a response from the DSNY, which did not immediately return a call for comment.

 

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Parks Dept. says no to changing tree program despite complaints from Howard Beach residents


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Gabriella Licata

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The Parks Department rejected Howard Beach residents’ plea of changing the system of planting trees in the neighborhood, known as the one million tree initiative. Currently, residents may request a tree to be planted in front of their homes but may not refuse a planting, a point of contention for more than two dozen residents.

Due to recent complaints, Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder has urged the department to implement a system where residents will be given the option to have a tree planted in front of their homes prior to it being planted.

But doing so would be too complicated, according to Zachary Feder, a spokesman for the Parks Department.

“NYC Parks is always willing to consider location and species suggestions,” Feder said.

“However trees work best as a system, and eliminating planting sites or allowing homeowners to opt out would undermine the effectiveness of this system and significantly reduce the environmental benefit.”

The trees are being placed on city property, but once planted maintaining them and raking the leaves that fall from the trees on to the sidewalk are the residents’ responsibility.

When Superstorm Sandy roared through the area it tore down trees, which damaged houses, power lines and sidewalks, leaving some residents wary of new trees being placed in front of their houses.

“Many residents are still recovering from Sandy and should be involved in the process that will revitalize their neighborhood,” Goldfeder said.

Feder said the new trees will be better suited for storm conditions.

“In recent years, we have implemented new planting techniques on streets to make the new trees we plant less susceptible to storm damage and less likely to lift up sidewalks,” Feder said.

The MillionTreesNYC initiative is a citywide project, and is not just going on in neighborhoods that were affected by Sandy. The Parks Department plans to plant about 220,000 trees on public streets, which will increase the city’s urban forest, “our most valuable environmental asset,” according to the department’s website.

It also says these new trees will help to capture storm water, reduce air pollution and moderate temperatures.

Despite the protests, the Parks Department said it will continue to plant trees around the neighborhood.

 

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Howard Beach Staples to close at end of May


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Roger Gendron

The only Staples in Howard Beach is closing at the end of this month.

The store put signs up announcing the closure last week but there will be none of the usual sales fanfare, according to the workers at the Cross Bay Boulevard location. Residents have noticed workers starting to pack boxes as the store nears its closing date.

“Sad how everything seems to stay here short term,” Lisa Marie, a local, wrote on the Howard Beach Civic Association Facebook page.

Superstorm Sandy hit businesses hard on the boulevard and the office supply store didn’t open back up until mid-2013. With less than a year of operating after recovering, the store will be closing its doors for good.

A photo of the Staples Howard Beach location after it reopened, taken around the one-year anniversary of Sandy. (THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre)

“Whenever a large store like that closes, it sends bad vibes through the community,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo said.

The fact that Staples was willing to reopen after Sandy, unlike the local Duane Reade, led him and other local politicians to think they were here to stay.

“We’re trying to bring back our local economy,” Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder said. “Staples was always a good neighbor but I’m hopeful. This gives us an opportunity for new entities to come in.”

A Staples worker said that the increase in online retail has made it unnecessary to keep the location open.

“As customers shift online, we are taking aggressive action to right-size our retail footprint,” a spokesperson for Staples, Kaitlyn Reardon said. Staples is also “working to provide transfer options where possible” for the workers there.

Addabbo noted that many of these workers are locals. “It’s a loss of jobs,” he said. “So now the question is post-Staples, what happens?”

 

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Assemblyman eyes vacant Ozone Park lot owned by ConEd for school parking


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder's office

Updated Friday, May 16 1:42 p.m.

A vacant lot in Ozone Park that has sat fallow for several years should be converted into a parking lot for teachers at a nearby middle school, an elected official said.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder has asked Con Edison to allow teachers and parents from M.S. 137 to park in the lot across 98th Street from the school.

The extra parking space would do more than just make parking convenient for teachers and parents, Goldfeder said.

“Allowing access to the vacant lot for parking will help encourage parents to be more involved in student activities with their children,” Goldfeder said. “Every organization has a responsibility to the communities they are located in and a small gesture from ConEd will go a long way in easing parking congestion for residents of Ozone Park and parents visiting the school.”

Parents complain that the area is severely congested and “parking is often difficult,” Goldfeder said in a letter to ConEd.

“The vacant lot would be the perfect solution to the longtime issue of parking in the area for homeowners and allow the school extra space to host special events.”

For their part, ConEd will respond to Goldfeder’s request after the company considers the matter.

” We will review it and respond to him. We are also reaching out to him to discuss the matter,” spokesman Allan Drury said.

 

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MTA Bus Time scheduled to come to Queens within weeks


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Queens commuters will soon be able to track when the next bus will arrive.

MTA Bus Time, which allows riders to follow real-time location of buses through any web-enabled smartphone or computer via GPS, should be coming to the borough within weeks, according to the agency.

“We have completed borough-wide installations in Queens and Brooklyn and are currently fine-tuning software. We are on schedule to go on line in the next several weeks,” MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz said.

MTA Bus Time users can also text an intersection or street address to 511123 to receive a message listing local bus routes or find out information by using a smartphone with a QR-code reader. The QR-code is printed on the Guide-A-Ride schedules posted at bus stops.

The technology started serving all of Staten Island’s bus routes in January 2012. It was later expanded to include all Bronx and Manhattan routes as well as Brooklyn’s B63 and B61 lines.

The MTA said in October 2013 that it would be expanding Bus Time to Queens and remaining routes within the next six months.

Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder has been pushing for the MTA to implement the technology throughout Queens and to set a start date for its launch.

He sent a letter to MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast last week asking him to immediately expand its use in the entire borough.

“Waiting for a bus in Queens should not be a guessing game,” Goldfeder said.

Goldfeder stressed the importance of Bus Time in Queens, saying it would improve local bus service and help ease congestion on roadways.

“[Bus Time] is the perfect solution to make public transportation more accessible and efficient to keep traffic moving,” Goldfeder said.

“I’m excited to see a successful program come to Queens residents,” he added.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers in the afternoon. High of 68. Winds from the South at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 60%. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy with a chance of rain. Low of 59. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the WNW after midnight. Chance of rain 40%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Laughing Devil Comedy Festival

The Laughing Devil Comedy Club’s six-day festival featuring comedians from around the world competing for cash and prizes, along with some hilarious celebrity guests. Ends May 19. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Rockaway official launches petition to make ferry service permanent

THE CITY must continue providing ferry service from Sandy-ravaged Rockaway to Manhattan even after the A train is restored next month, a state lawmaker said Tuesday. Read more: New York Daily News

NTSB recommends lowering legal limit to reduce drunk driving deaths

Federal accident investigators recommended Tuesday that states cut their threshold for drunken driving by nearly half, matching a standard that has substantially reduced highway deaths in other countries. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Boxer Robert (The Ghost) Guerrero gets soft deal on Queens gun rap

The Ghost has ducked the law’s hardest punch. Boxer Robert (The Ghost) Guerrero has agreed to a plea agreement with Queens prosecutors that gives him a kid-glove sentence for bringing an illegal handgun to JFK Airport in March. Read more: New York Daily News

Report: Former Rep. Anthony Weiner hires campaign manager

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner may soon make an official announcement that he is running for New York City mayor. Read more: CBS New York

Paterson hears ‘House’ call

Congressman David Paterson? Could be! The former New York governor said he has been approached about running for the Harlem congressional seat currently occupied by Rep. Charles Rangel. And he isn’t closing the door on the idea. Read more: New York Post

FBI investigating IRS targeting of conservative groups

The Justice Department is opening a criminal investigation of the Internal Revenue Service just as another probe concludes that lax management enabled agents to improperly target tea party groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax exempt status. Read more: AP/ABC New York

 

 

Cuomo budget has $21 billion for Sandy relief


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sandy, education and economic development were top priorities in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget, but despite the unexpected costs from the storm, the proposed plan eliminates a $1.3 billion gap with no new taxes or fees.

“By making difficult decisions over the past two years we have brought stability, predictability, and common sense to the state’s budget process,” said Cuomo.

“Sandy caused widespread destruction and as we begin the daunting task of rebuilding in southern Queens and the Rockaways, the governor’s proposal focuses on our needs by including $21 billion for disaster-related recovery, rebuilding and mitigation,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder.

But the budget doesn’t stop at Sandy.

It increases education aid by $889 million, or an average of more than $300 per student, raises the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $8.75, and reforms the Workers’ Compensation system, saving more than $900 million.

In addition to money set aside for Sandy relief, another part of the budget is also good news for the borough.

The plan extends a film tax credit, which is set to expire at the end of 2014, for five more years.

“New York’s film tax credit has made our film industry an economic success story during an otherwise difficult economy,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris. “As the home for some of New York’s largest film production studios, western Queens has earned its reputation as Hollywood East thanks to this incentive program. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his ongoing support of the film tax credit and look forward to seeing western Queens continue to benefit from this important job-creating tool.”

On Tuesday Cuomo also announced a new website, Openbudget.ny.gov, which gives the public access to the state’s budget.

“Open Budget is bringing the people back into government by taking budget data out of government file cabinets and making it available to the public for the first time in an easy-to-access, downloadable form. This will facilitate research, analysis and innovation,” said Cuomo.

Drugstore chain steps up for volunteers


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

While Sandy flooded Hamilton Beach and endangered the lives of many residents trapped in their homes, the area’s volunteer fire department was out braving the elements. Now they’re getting some help back.

Duane Reade/Walgreens came to the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department on Thursday, December 20 to donate $25,000 so the company can replace some of the life-saving equipment that was ruined by the storm.

“We understand the value of volunteer fire departments and what they bring,” said Greg Calvano, Duane Reade/Walgreens’ senior director of store operations. “And when we heard they lost all their equipment, and a lot of their personal stuff in the firehouse, it’s time that communities join together.”

State Senator Joseph Addabbo commended the fire department, with much of the staff living nearby, for putting the lives and the safety of others first – while their own homes were suffering damage.

“Moments after Sandy came along and hit this area of Hamilton Beach, which is Zone A,” Addabbo said, “moments after that storm hit, volunteers went throughout this area rescuing people. And these are volunteers that put their personal issues with Sandy aside to deal with the issues others had.”

The first step will be to get a new ambulance for the fire department. After the trucks were damaged, firehouses from places such as Berlin, Pennsylvania, donated equipment.

“It’s nice to have the [support of] people in the community,” said Fire Chief Jonah Cohen. “It’s also nice that people volunteer their time. It’s not only us, but there have been a lot of people in the community that have volunteered to help others. And that’s an important thing to understand.”

Howard Beach residents, businesses fuming over lack of insurance, gov’t assistance


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

At $9,000 a year, JoAnn Ambrosio thought she had the “Rolls Royce” of insurance. But when four feet of water flooded her Howard Beach home during Sandy, she was left scrambling.

Living in Zone B, Ambrosio was not required to purchase a policy that provided protection from floods — a service that for $400 extra, she wished she owned.

“My insurance company doesn’t even want to talk to me,” said Ambrosio. “I put in a claim and they denied it.”

The realtor, whose rental property was destroyed in the storm, said FEMA refused to offer help with the property she leases because it is registered as a business. She is awaiting notification about a small business loan she requested.

Ambrosio estimates she lost $250,000 between her home and her rental property.

“I’m just looking for every resource,” said Ambrosio. “I did receive help from FEMA but it’s not enough to cover both pieces of property. They did give me a check but it’s not enough to cover the extent of the damage that occurred there — I don’t understand why FEMA doesn’t help small businesses. That just adds insult to injury.”

At a forum at Roma View Catering Hall on Tuesday, November 27, Ambrosio and roughly 50 other homeowners and merchants filled out claims and spoke with Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, expressing their frustrations over underperforming insurance companies and lack of government assistance.

“This will not be quick, although we wish it was. We’ve got to stick with it until it’s done,” said de Blasio.

One homeowner, who only received $6,000 from FEMA to cover $17,000 in damages, said her insurance company refused to cover anything because Sandy was a storm and not a hurricane.

Angelo Gurino, owner of Ragtime grocery store on Cross Bay Boulevard, hoped the meeting might bring some clarity among the mess of insurance paperwork. The small business owner said his electrical system — newly installed for $68,000 — experienced the most damage. Gurino estimates rebuilding will run somewhere between $50,000 to $75,000.

“I hate to see the bill when I get it,” he said.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, whose home and office were damaged by Sandy, said the event was to ensure residents that they have not been forgotten.

“The government hasn’t forgotten about them,” said Goldfeder. “There are still people who care about them and the community and about finding ways to rebuild — it’s not the end of the road.”