The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Staten Island BP Vows to Bounce Back from Sandy in State of Borough Speech

By Nicholas Rizzi | March 1, 2013 7:48am

ST. GEORGE — Long-time Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro looked back on his nearly 12 years in office and detailed the next steps for residents moving forward after Hurricane Sandy.

Molinaro, who took office right after 9/11, dedicated a good portion of his farewell speech to addressing the needs of the borough residents whose homes were ravaged by the storm in October.

“In the wake of Sandy, Staten Island will not be the same,” Molinaro said during his speech.

“It altered our shore lines. It destroyed homes. It ripped families apart.”

Speaking to a large crowd of people at the St. George Theatre, the borough president talked about several plans to help victims move forward after the storm, including the creation of a website to help homeowners find out how much their properties have to be raised according to the new FEMA flood maps.

“Realizing the elevations shown on the FEMA maps are just one piece of the puzzle,” he said.

“Understanding that it could cost each homeowner up to $500 to hire a surveyor. I am creating a website that will do the surveying and math to provide homeowners with a simple plain-English answer, free of charge.”

The borough president did not say when the website would launch, but visitors will be able to type in their address and see the new elevation, their current floor elevation and how many feet are needed to reach the new height.

Molinaro also announced plans to build a monument to remember the 23 Staten Island residents who lost their lives during the storm.

“We need a place where we can remember those we lost,” he said.

He suggested the monument should be placed at Freedom Circle at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk — which honors people who have lost their lives defending the country.

Molinaro also said he’s been hard at work creating maps for people who are interested in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recently announced buyout program for homeowners in flood zones, and said he is crafting a needs statement for help for the island’s two hospitals in the wake of Sandy.

He also announced the allocation of $150,000 to help speed up construction of Eden II Center’s Stapleton location. The autism center’s elevators and basement were damaged by the storm, but Molinaro said the funds will allow it to open by September.

“This project is just too important,” he said. “We can’t afford for it to be held up.”

Aside from Sandy recovery, the borough president also outlined new developments and plans coming to Staten Island during his final term.

“Sandy may have changed some of these plans, and shifted some priorities, but it will not take away from Staten Island’s future,” he said.

Molinaro talked about a new sit down seafood restaurant coming to the Ferry terminal by the end of the year, and the funding of a “Cultural Center” in the terminal.

He also announced plans to buy salad bars for seven Staten Island school cafeterias, funding for a mobile command vehicle for the Sanitation Department during snowstorms and emergencies, and the Department of Transportation’s plan to replace many of the boroughs lights with LEDs.

When the boardwalk reopens in the summer, the lights will be replaced with LEDs. The borough’s highway lights will be replaced with LEDs, making it the first in the city.

“They will be brighter and use less electricity — improving safety and saving money,” Molinaro said.

The borough president talked about new developments coming to the island’s North Shore, inlcuding the New York Wheel and Harbor Commons, and the future of the borough, but also looked back at his time in office.

“We were hurting,” he said about the city when he started as borough president.

“We were mourning the loss of loved ones. And there was doubt, real doubt, that New York City and Staten Island could bounce back. But we did bounce back.”

At the end of his speech, Molinaro thanked the borough for allowing him to serve in his position for so long, and said he never regretted a day in office.

“I want to sincerely thank each and every one of you for giving me the privilege of doing this job, year after year,” he said.

“I hope I didn’t disappoint you," he said.