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De Blasio's Hurricane Sandy Recovery Funding Isn't 'Equitable,' Critics Say

By Katie Honan | June 7, 2016 3:32pm
 A home being lifted through the city's Build It Back program, which was slammed last week at a City Council hearing.
A home being lifted through the city's Build It Back program, which was slammed last week at a City Council hearing.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

CONEY ISLAND — Local elected officials say the city has been giving their districts short shrift when it comes to allocating rebuilding funds after Hurricane Sandy — with one politician giving the city an ‘F’ for their handling of the situation.

Councilman Mark Treyger from Brooklyn — who represents areas hit hard by Hurricane Sandy including Coney Island — said at a recent hearing led by the City Council’s committee on recovery and resiliency, which he chairs, that his district isn’t getting its fair share of city funds as compared with places like lower Manhattan.

He pointed specifically to "The Big U," a protective measure funded through federal funds. The city has also committed $100 million for flood protection south of the Brooklyn Bridge in Lower Manhattan.

“We hear a lot of pledges and commitments but execution is something else,” Treyger said at the hearing, during which he grilled officials from the city's Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Recovery and Resiliency.

He said while the city pledged to study Coney Island Creek, they've put forward no other secure protective measures for the area.

“I’m hearing 'studies', I’m hearing 'proposal for studies', but we’re seeing in other regions of the city significant projects underway with a significant amount of resources committed to them but I'm just not hearing or seeing anything with regards to our part of New York.”

When city officials noted sand replenishment projects at Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Sea Gate, Treyger said it’s “insulting” to bring it up because it’s already eroded.

And he pointed to the issue of equity with both city and federal funding.

“To me, the mayor and others in the administration like to bring up the term equity. Well I’m going to throw it right back at the administration,” he said.

“I want to see equity when it comes to resiliency spending. I want to see equity when it comes to protecting all New Yorkers, and not just some New Yorkers.”

Councilman Eric Ulrich, who represents parts of the Rockaway peninsula, Broad Channel and Howard Beach, was even more harsh with the city.

He gave the program an ‘F’ — which he said was being generous — and pointed to the delay of the boardwalk in his district and the long wait for construction starts for homeowners in the Build It Back program.

“I love when people say, ‘I know how you feel, I appreciate the way you feel,’” he said at the hearing.

“It’s not a therapy session. I don’t need you to know how I feel and appreciate how I feel. I just want you to do a better job, because whatever you’re doing now, it’s not working.”

The mayor's office said Treyger’s statements didn’t reflect the “realities” of projects slated for southern Brooklyn and throughout the city. 

"The city and its federal partners have been aggressively driving recovery and resiliency dollars to communities in all five boroughs based on need, allowing them to not just recover from the storm but build back stronger and more resiliently," the mayor's office said in a statement. They also pointed to a map that showed progress on projects across the city.

Officials cited $15 million in city funds that have been set aside for Coney Island’s commercial corridor infrastructures and $20 million earmarked for Hunts Point, as well as $60 million for Staten Island's levee project. 

In Rockaway, the $480 million project boardwalk project, while plagued by delays, is nearly complete. And the city has also contributed funds to the Army Corps of Engineers' sand replenishment project on the peninsula.