Democracy in action: rebuilding Island Park

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The damage to the already inadequate drainage system and infrastructure is now affecting the fragile economy of Island Park. The village is struggling due to the constant worry of flooding during rain storms and high tides. Business owners are dubious about investing in the town. Residents are living in fear of heavy rains, because the drainage system and retaining walls aren’t capable of handling even the smallest of storms. It’s hard to imagine that a town in which residential dwellings averaged $181,000 in damage and commercial properties averaged $461,000, with total losses over $200 million, still has not received funding from FEMA’s HMGP grant.

On March 18, residents voted for the candidates who they were most confident would help bring Island Park back. Mayor-elect Michael McGinty’s focus is already on moving forward. “We’ve hit the ground running,” he said. “We’re trying to work. There’s a lot to do.”

McGinty, along with his fellow trustees Joe Annarella and newcomer Matt Paccionne, have a lot of tough work ahead of them, but they know how to get the job done, and they’re prepared to do whatever it takes for the people of the village.

All drainage and inlet structures must be examined and evaluated for potential replacement, storm water runoff volumes must be calculated, and streets that now experience chronic flooding at high tide must be raised. These are just some of the projects that must be taken on in order to bring the village back.

And Island Park isn’t the only town still feeling the effects of this crisis. The residents of Long Island must help our elected officials encourage New York state to help small towns and villages such as Island Park that have seemingly been forgotten, and make them a priority.

Time is critical. Twenty percent of the homes in my hometown that were destroyed by Sandy are still vacant, and many more that were damaged are still not fully renovated. I’m fearful that Island Park will become a ghost town instead of the place my parents and so many other hardworking, middle-class people came to raise their families.
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