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Sunday, May 29, 2016
Sandy rebuilding continues
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Community reconstruction zone co-chair Tommy Asher led a protest group in Island Park after Hurricane Sandy, demanding federal recovery funds.

Through the CRZ planning process, communities will asses their vulnerabilities, identify where funds should be spent to address them and develop projects that will promote sound economic development.

Pagano said he thinks he was invited to join the committee because of his dual roles as community activist and transportation engineer. “I have the expertise on the civil engineering side,” he said, “and have worked on resilience projects for the MTA, including one prior to Sandy on Lawson Boulevard, near the Oceanside Long Island Railroad station, where the MTA put in fencing along the track that kept debris off the track after the storm.”

The process, which was described as “bottom up,” has angered some local residents. “How can it be bottom-up when committee members were already chosen before the governor’s announcement was even made?” asked Seth Blau, an Oceanside resident who said he wonders why both co-chairs are from Island Park when Oceanside is a much larger community.

“There are all sorts of Oceanside officials that the state could have gone to in order to find a co-chair,” Blau said. “They could have gone to the school board, to the Sanitary Commission, to the Chamber of Commerce, to local politicians and come up with a co-chair from Oceanside. It’s frustrating, with so much at stake, that nobody from Oceanside is co-chairing the committee.”

Munafo responded in an email, “The state hears your concern with respect to the areas in which the co-chairs reside and I am confident that Oceanside will be represented in the process.”

Asher is receiving a disability pension from the FDNY, from which he retired after several years of service. He led a protest called Walk in our Shoes after Sandy tore through the community, lobbying for federal funds for the recovery effort.

Munafo declined to say who chose the two men as co-chairs, explaining only that their names “popped up” on the state’s radar and that they were chosen after discussions among several people with ties to the four communities.

The state’s guidelines call for the work of the committees to be completed within a year of their first meetings.


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