By Patrick Donachie
The city has broken ground on a $67 million reconstruction project at a New York City Housing Authority residential development in the Rockaways that was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. It was the first of 33 scheduled projects to repair Sandy-affected NYCHA housing that would be funded by a $3 billion grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“Many of us still remember the weeks of cold and darkness after Sandy—including thousands of NYCHA residents. People across all five boroughs are still feeling the impact today,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the groundbreaking ceremony last Friday. “However, with this $67 million investment, we will continue to fortify NYCHA buildings and create a more resilient city so that residents never have to go through this again.”
The Ocean Bay-Oceanside NYCHA development, located at 64-81 Almeda Ave. in Arverne, has 417 apartments and has a population of 852 residents. The proposed improvements to the development include a full roof replacement, standby generators to supply power in the event of an emergency, refurbished playgrounds and new security doors and cameras. The construction is slated to start in the second quarter of 2016, according to information from NYCHA’s Sandy Recovery Program Management Office.
The $3 billion FEMA grant, which will fund 32 additional projects besides the Oceanside repairs, was allocated last year after three years of advocacy and support from New York congressional leaders, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mayor Bill de Blasio. The FEMA funding will be dispersed by the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to specific NYCHA projects. NYCHA currently has contracts out for repair work at two Coney Island locations, Smith Houses and Rangel Houses in Manhattan, and Astoria Houses, among others.
The city also released renderings of the planned repairs slated for the Ocean Bay-Oceanside apartments, including standby generators on the roofs of each of the seven buildings in the development and flood barriers at building entrances. State Sen. James Sanders (D-South Ozone Park) said such repairs were vital in the event of another storm with the destructive severity of Sandy.
“It goes without saying that Hurricane Sandy was one of the worst disasters in our lifetime. As a community, we were not equipped,” he said. “This project is so important because it not only helps Ocean Bay-Oceanside rebuild, but it helps us take steps to become more resilient in the face of future storms.”
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona