De Blasio announces storm resilience project on Sandy anniversary

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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, announced a $145 million program for up to seven climate resilience projects on the Rockaway Peninsula in southern Queens.

“These investments are an important step forward for Rockaways residents, connecting them with parks and the waterfront, while helping shield them from future storms,” de Blasio said Sunday.

In February, the city submitted a list of recreational and resiliency projects for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to consider for funding from cost savings from the Rockaway Beach boardwalk reconstruction. While $480 million was obligated for the boardwalk, the city saved $120 million, said de Blasio.

Under FEMA 428 program rules, the city can allocate the savings to other resiliency projects. Contributions from the administration, Borough President Melinda Katz and other public and private sources totaled an additional $25 million.

The projects, subject to final FEMA approval, are Bayswater Park; the Edgemere raised shoreline; the Shore Front Parkway recreation zone; Rockaway Community, Beach 88th Street and Thursby Basin parks; and a parks operations headquarters.

According to de Blasio, a Democrat, the city expects to hold public scoping meetings starting in the spring.

De Blasio’s Republican challenger in the Nov. 7 election, state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis from Staten Island, accused the mayor of mismanaging the recovery from the Oct. 29, 2012, hurricane.

“Here we are two years later on the fifth anniversary and 20% of the homes across New York City are still under construction and thousands of other families have dropped out of the program out of frustration,” she said. “This is bureaucracy and mismanagement at its worst.”

Malliotakis’ recommendations for improving storm recovery include capping each grant at the assessed value of the home to spread out available funding; waiving property taxes and water charges; and allowing applicants to hire their own contractors.

Comptroller Scott Stringer today called for a seven-point plan to leverage city purchasing power, negotiate costs in advance and overhaul emergency procurement. According to Stringer, the city could implement these measures now.

“This isn’t about laying blame for the past, but it’s instead about planning for the future,” said Stringer. “This is a realistic road map for the future both for New York and for any city facing an emergency.”

In its response to Sandy, the city sought authorization for more than $1.3 billion in emergency spending for goods and services.

Stringer said the city should plan ahead to minimize the risk of expensive emergency procurements, drawing on the expertise of multiple agencies.

The city, he said, should develop a catalogue of on-call contracts; include emergency-specific provisions, allowing access to select services under existing citywide contracts to be activated in an emergency situation; improve its model for a home-repair program and minimize confusion around billing; cooperate more efficiently with state, regional and national agencies; require periodic emergency contract updates and strive for early registration; and establish protocols for expanding the use of city-issued credit cards to allow for on-the-spot procurement decisions and enhance tracking.

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Infrastructure Budgets Scott Stringer Bill de Blasio City of New York, NY New York