By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councilman Mark Treyger played the role of tour guide, showing a newly appointed city official the sites of Coney Island on Monday. But it wasn’t a bid to boost tourism.
Treyger, chairman of the council’s Recovery and Resiliency Committee, said he wanted Amy Peterson, director of the city’s Housing Recovery Office, to see first-hand the rebuilding efforts going on in Coney Island, a community that was devastated by Super-storm Sandy in 2012. Seventeen months after the storm hit, residents are still struggling to rebuild their damaged homes.
Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) took Peterson on a three-hour tour of Coney Island and its neighboring community, Seagate. The two not only looked at damaged buildings, they also spoke to neighborhood residents about their struggles to rebuild their homes and businesses.
Many residents told Peterson that they are still trying to get back into their damaged homes and are awaiting reimbursement from eh government after using personal savings to rebuild. Residents raided their life savings to rebuild their houses, Treyger said.
Peterson was appointed to her new post by Mayor Bill de Blasio on March 29.
She vowed to the Coney Island residents she met on the tour to get the city’s much-maligned “Build it Back” program moving forward and told residents she intends to make sure that the recovery effort begins showing tangible results for them.
Dna Info reported that the $650 million “Build It Back” program was established by the city last summer but that the first reimbursement checks to homeowners weren’t mailed out until last week.
Treyger said the tour had the positive results he that he had been seeking.
“It was important for me to bring Director Peterson to residents who are still trying to rebuild their homes and lives so that she could hear their frustrations and concerns firsthand,” he said.
Treyger also expressed confidence that the de Blasio Administration will address the concerns of residents. “Everyone agrees that the recovery process has failed the public to this point, but I am confident that Mayor de Blasio recognizes the urgent need that still exists in Coney Island, Sea Gate and other communities 17 months after the storm hit, and that Director Peterson understands the scope of the challenges still facing our city,” he said.
The April 7 tour began in Sea Gate, where Treyger and Peterson were shown the interior of a home that remains completely unfinished and uninhabitable to this day. The councilman and director discussed the homeowner’s plight in obtaining funding and reimbursements to complete the job. The two officials then stopped at several homes and a co-op building in Coney Island before meeting with a small business owner and landlord. They also stopped at the site of a recent fire that destroyed a home that had been abandoned following Super-storm Sandy. The fire threatened the adjacent homes.
Super-storm Sandy wreaked havoc when it washed ashore in Coney Island on Oct. 29, 2012. Scores of buildings were flooded and the hurricane-strength winds knocked down walls and destroyed foundations.
The iconic Coney Island Amusement Park, home to the world famous Cyclone and other rides, sustained millions of dollars in damage.
Even the local police station, the 60th Precinct, wasn’t spared from Sandy’s wrath. The basement of the West Eighth Street stationhouse was flooded and the walls were cracked as a result of the storm. In a report that aired a year after Sandy, NY1 reported that the stationhouse’s basement walls had been repaired but that metal doors and jail cells still had rust marks. The precinct’s records room, which had been housed in the basement, had been flooded in the storm and paperwork that had been stored there was destroyed, NY1 reported.
Peterson told Treyger she is willing to investigate the possibility of having the city work with community-based social service organizations to perform case management duties and said she would work to ensure that local residents have employment opportunities through the rebuilding efforts.
The tour took place a week after Treyger held a seven hour hearing at City Hall about the slow pace of the recovery. Peterson attended that hearing.
“I was especially pleased to hear her willingness to pursue my proposals to make local residents and organizations partners in this effort. I promised when running for office that I would not rest until every resident is back home and is provided the assistance they need, and I will continue to fight until this happens,” Treyger said.