One of the biggest post-Hurricane Sandy challenges has been getting resources directly to local residents, businesses and community infrastructure and resiliency projects. Over 1,000 small-business, civic and governmental leaders gathered at the annual Smart Growth Summit to strengthen our communities and rebuild the region’s infrastructure.
Post-Sandy, New York state created the Community Reconstruction Program, which is involving thousands of South Shore residents and business owners in planning efforts to strengthen their communities through infrastructure investments. This process is fueled by federal Sandy aid that will help implement a slew of community-driven infrastructure projects to help weather the next storm.
Jamie Rubin, director of the New York Office of Storm Recovery, said that the state has learned from past storms, and must continue learning. Through NY Rising, Rubin said, more vulnerable waterfront homes could be purchased. New York’s Community Reconstruction Program selected locations, including 31 in Nassau and eight in Suffolk, before creating an eight-month planning process — now 12 weeks old — to improve each community. Professional consulting firms were selected to work with each area along the way. Rubin also said that comprehensive storm water drainage will protect the power supply and vulnerable populations on the South Shore.
To be sure, the $455 million federal investment in the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant may be the biggest allocation of outside funds and the largest infrastructure project in Long Island’s history, and is a big win for Nassau County and the impacted communities. We recognize that it’s a bit strange to talk about long-term needs while communities are dealing with short-term homelessness and other extreme conditions. But it is still better that residents plan their future at the many public meetings than a bureaucrat or out-of-town engineer who doesn’t know their community.