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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sandy rebuilding continues
Three chosen to help communities recover
Herald File Photo
Community reconstruction zone co-chair Tommy Asher led a protest group in Island Park after Hurricane Sandy, demanding federal recovery funds.

When Oceanside resident Raymond Pagano got a call from Laura Munafo, the Nassau County representative for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Community Reconstruction Zones program, Pagano was first surprised, and then intrigued.

“She and the governor wanted me to come to Albany to be on the stage when Cuomo announced the program to the public, and I accepted it quickly, because it was a chance to help the community rebuild after Hurricane Sandy,” said Pagano, the president of the Oceanside Civic Association and an engineer for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “I went, and now I’m a committee member.”

Pagano is one of three men appointed thus far to the Community Reconstruction Zone Planning Committee, which will represent four local communities: Oceanside, Island Park, Harbor Isle and Barnum Island. Each committee — there are 45 statewide — has been allocated up to $25 million, and the committee, working with experts provided by the state, will decide how that money will best be spent.

The other two committee members, who have already been designated by Munafo as co-chairs, are Island Park residents Anthony D’Esposito, the chief of the Island Park Fire Department, and the son of Steve D. Esposito, Island Park’s deputy mayor, and Tommy Asher, the former owner of the Village Nursery School, a day care center that was devastated by Sandy, and a retired New York City firefighter.

“The committee is in the early stages of development,” Pagano told the Herald. “We were told in Albany that the committee would grow, and that the first meeting would be prior to the end of August.”

According to guidelines provided by the state, each committee will have nine to 15 members — experts in planning, zoning, transportation, public works or economic development, representatives of commercial, environmental, housing or human services organizations or vulnerable populations, and emergency management personnel. Committee members will not be paid, and will have to follow a detailed code of ethics, the guidelines say.

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