Council freshmen flex their muscles

A lawmaker usually has to be on the City Council a few years before having any real clout.

But two of the council’s “youngsters” are bucking conventional political wisdom by moving up far and fast.

Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) and Councilman Carlos Menchaca (Sunset Park-Red Hook), who were elected to their posts in November, demanded a month later that the council’s leadership create a committee to oversee the still ongoing recovery efforts from Superstorm Sandy.

On Jan. 22, they got their wish. Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Rules Committee Chairman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) announced the creation of the Resiliency and Recovery Committee and quickly installed Treyger as the panel’s chairman.

Both Treyger and Menchaca, who was named a member of the new committee, represent districts that were devastated by the Oct. 29, 2012 hurricane and are still struggling to recover nearly 18 months later.

The New York Daily News reported that thousands of apartments in Coney Island and Brooklyn’s southern peninsula were wiped out due to the nasty combination of flooding from the Atlantic Ocean, Coney Island Creek and overflowing sewers.

The hurricane left thousands of Red Hook residents without heat, electricity, and running water, according to the Red Hook Initiative’s website. Residents in that community are still struggling to recover and rebuild, Menchaca said.

The goal of the new committee is to monitor the delivery of Sandy recover funds and to explore ways of addressing infrastructure issues to better prepare the city for future storms, according to Treyger.

“Councilman Menchaca, who has worked diligently to help his district recover, and I understand that the residents of southern Brooklyn and of all Sandy impacted neighborhoods deserve transparency, accountability, and action in the recovery process,” Treyger said.

Prior to the establishment of the committee, Sandy recovery efforts fell under the jurisdiction of multiple agencies and council committees. The Resiliency and Recovery Committee will unite the various stakeholders under one umbrella and work to ensure that issues relating to Sandy recovery receive adequate attention and oversight, Treyger said.

“The city’s recovery efforts thus far have simply not been fast enough,” Treyger said. “NYCHA buildings across the city are still running on backup boilers installed after Sandy, which have proven to be faulty during recent storms. They must be replaced with permanent boilers to ensure that families do not lose heat and hot water again due to faulty temporary boilers. Recovery programs such as Build-it-Back, must work in an expedited manner to assist the many homeowners still in need of assistance. This committee will go a long way to ensure that those in power understand that all Sandy impacted neighborhoods deserve a just, equitable and sustainable recovery."

NYCHA stands for the New York City Housing Authority.

“Waterfront neighborhoods throughout the city deserve a powerful voice and watchful eye here at the City Council as billions of dollars of aid flow in for Sandy recovery,” Menchaca said. “This type of work requires a truly collaborative committee that is prepared to work closely with multiple city agencies to ensure that our coastal neighborhoods, our working families and our immigrant communities get the aid and support that they so desperately need and deserve.  We must also make sure that our recovery dollars are used thoughtfully to create economic development opportunities for the very neighborhoods that are still recovering, like Red Hook and Sunset Park."