In what may be the most comprehensive planning effort to remake the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, a committee of residents representing a cross-section of the community released a 32-page plan last month that included its recommendations for both long-term storm-damage-mitigation measures and economic development.
In July, Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program — separate from the NY Rising program for homeowners — to assist communities damaged by Sandy and Tropical Storms Irene and Lee; 102 municipalities statewide are eligible for more than $750 million for reconstruction. Long Beach is eligible for the maximum $25 million.
According to the state, grant amounts are based on the extent of damage, as assessed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as applications for new infrastructure and other mitigation, and will be awarded once the plans are completed and submitted to the state for approval. The process is expected to take approximately eight months.
To date, the Long Beach planning committee has held eight meetings, including the most recent one, last Saturday. More than 100 residents attended the first meeting last month, at which the committee, working with Sustainable Long Island and other groups, gathered public input, ranging from the need for critical infrastructure and economic development initiatives to “ready-to-go” projects such as flood gates in neighborhoods like the Canals. Mimicking the boardwalk public-input process, residents were divided into groups of five to 10, and identified the most important post-storm issues.
The feedback led to the development of a plan that was presented to Cuomo at a conference in Albany a week before the one-year anniversary of Sandy, along with other plans from municipalities across the state. The co-chair of the Long Beach committee, former City Council President Joel Crystal, said that the need to protect critical infrastructure and homes along the bay has been a focus of city residents.