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State Won't Add Any More Neighborhoods to Sandy Buyout Program

By Nicholas Rizzi | April 11, 2014 10:20am
 The state will not add any more neighborhoods in the city to their Enhanced Buyout Program for Hurricane Sandy damaged homes.
The state will not add any more neighborhoods in the city to their Enhanced Buyout Program for Hurricane Sandy damaged homes.
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DNAinfo/James Fanelli

NEW DORP BEACH — After sending documents and binders full of signatures to the state in a bid to convince officials to expand the Hurricane Sandy buyout program, leaders were told Wednesday that no additional neighborhoods would be added.

State officials said Graham Beach — which was added last weekend — would be the final neighborhood in the city eligible for the buyout program, which gives residents the pre-storm value for their home and then uses the land for flood mitigation, NY1 first reported.

The state announced it would offer a different buyout program in Sandy damaged neighborhoods, but residents who had pleaded to be included said they were upset by the decision.

"A lot of hard work went into this," said Dee Vandenburg, president of the Staten Island Taxpayers Association who helped with the New Dorp Beach and Midland Beach buyout submissions. 

"There are days when we just feel like we might as well all quit. It's rough. It's very, very rough."

A spokeswoman for New York State's Office of Storm Recovery said they will use federal funds to purchase homes from Sandy victims through the NY Rising Home Acquisition Program, run through Build it Back.

"I think it's totally wrong," said Scott McGrath, a New Dorp Beach resident who signed up for a buyout. "There are sections on the island that should have been bought out, without a doubt."

The acquisition program works like the buyout program, except the city will buy the lot to redevelop it later instead of using it for wetlands restoration and to create coastal buffer zones.

The spokeswoman said, in many cases, the acquisition program works better for residents because they won't need the majority of homeowners in the neighborhood to sign on to get the funds. But some residents said they'd rather not have the land redeveloped.

"There are areas still left on this island that should not have been built on," Vandenburg said. "We don't understand the reasoning behind all of this."

And while the buyout program has already purchased 170 homes in Oakwood Beach and will start to buy the 130 homes in Ocean Breeze soon, Build it Back has only acquired a single home since October.

Residents have frequently vented their frustration at the snail's pace, but Mayor Bill de Blasio promised on Thursday that every house damaged by the storm would be rebuilt.

"We’ve made a commitment — a very public commitment — that everyone, everyone whose home was destroyed, will have their home rebuilt," he said.

"We owe that to them and we will achieve it."