ROCKAWAY BEACH — Embattled pol Anthony Weiner took aim at the city's response to Hurricane Sandy in the Rockaways — slamming the parks department for repairing the area's "hipster" concession stands after the storm instead of concentrating on protecting the peninsula.
In the months since the storm, the parks department has constructed multi-million dollar bathrooms and lifeguard shacks and renovated the concession stands, painting the buildings and constructing "boardwalk islands" at Beach 106, Beach 97 and Beach 86 streets.
“The city came in and for reasons that maybe you understand, but I don't, was obsessed with concessions, was obsessed with their own idea for a hipster-looking concessions on the beach, rather than really giving some real thought to the community about how to restore the boardwalk and how to restore the community,” he said.
Plans to replace the miles of boardwalk that were completely destroyed will be revealed in September, according to the Parks Department.
The dig elicited loud cheers from the crowd, and Weiner continued to address some of the real issues facing his former district, including transportation and rising flood insurance costs.
"The storm came, and without fear of contradiction, I don’t think the city's response was great. The community's response was amazing, the way you pulled together," he said.
Weiner said he would use the money set aside for buyouts to help residents pay to protect their homes — and used the opportunity to take a jab at his competitor Bill Thompson, who had said he wouldn’t support rebuilding in floodplains.
"He's gotta come visit Rockaway," he said. "If you look at the map, we are standing on a floodplain. We can’t say we’re not going to rebuild. We don’t have that luxury.”
The forum was sponsored by Friends of Rockaway Beach, a civic group that advocates for beach protection for the coastal peninsula.
Inside the Knights of Columbus hall on Beach 90th Street, where he’d spoken at many forums before as the area’s former congressman, Weiner commended the community for their work after the hurricane.
The community’s response to Weiner, however, who referred to the peninsula as the “heart and soul” of his former district, was mixed.
Patrick Clark, a local artist who’s lived in Rockaway for nearly three decades, thanked Weiner for his continued support.
“You stood by us, you supported us,” he said. “I appreciate you keeping up the good fight.
"I'd like to have a mayor with a controversy rather than one we're never going to see again.”
But Robert “Andy” McCrachen, a former Grand Knight who was sitting inside the Knights of Columbus bar, said Weiner lost his support with the most recent sexting scandal.
“He did a disservice with not being honest with us the first time,” he said.
“Honestly, now I don't know who I'm going to vote for.”