Wednesday evening, Professor Doug Muzzio moderated a council speaker forum at Baruch College. Seven contenders participated; Jumaane Williams, Dan Garodnick, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Annabel Palma, James Vacca, Mark Weprin and Inez Dickens.
Following the forum, we spoke with Council Member Karen Koslowitz about the race, how it’s shaping up with her fellow council members and when she expects the winner to be identified. Koslowitz, a Queens Democrat, was elected to office in 2009 and re-elected this year. She previously served on the Council from 1991-2001.
In this video we’ve compiled clips of the beach and nearby homes on Beach 130th Street in Belle Harbor. The clips start in early November 2012, just after Sandy struck and end this afternoon, exactly one year since Sandy. There is great progress from the flat beach and battered homes in the initial video, but even today there is still much to be done.
The clips are from B-roll that I’ve taken on some my visits to B130th Street over the past year. While there is far more to the recovery then shown in these clips, on this block and throughout Rockaway, they show a meaningful part of the story.
We’ve also published a couple of reports focused in whole or part on B130th Street, including here and here.
Today in Breezy Point residents commemorated the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy with a public ceremony and a volunteer effort at planting dune grass on a long sand dune that residents recently created. Many elected officials and candidates, including Joe Lhota, Phil Goldfeder, Joe Addabbo, Eric Ulrich, Tish James, Scott Stringer and John Liu attended.
As we walked from the ceremony toward the ocean and the dune, I asked Joe Lhota whether he likes going to the beach for fun. Turns out that he loves the ocean and loves to surf.
In the past three days, both mayoral candidates have talked sports in Breezy Point. Sunday, Bill de Blasio received a less-than-welcome invitation to play basketball while visiting Breezy Point.
Update #2 – Lhota Press Q&A:
After planting dune grass, Joe Lhota spoke with the press. He sought to keep the focus on Sandy recovery, but also made some revealing comments about his decision to run and some of the tactical considerations in his campaign. He declined to criticize Bill de Blasio’s absence from Rockaway today, saying that there are many places and ways to commemorate the anniversary of Sandy and that he is “not going to use this as a day to politic.”
Lhota spoke very highly of the Blooomberg administration’s resiliency plans, describing the Plan NYC report as a “great roadmap” and an important part of Mayor Bloomberg’s legacy.
He seemed genuinely surprised by a reporter asking why he hasn’t done more to campaign on his role in recovery from both Sandy and the September 11th attacks, saying that he is “running on the future, not running on the past” and that “glorifying tragedies is not something that I think is important in campaigning.” He added, perhaps naively, that “I think everyone knows what I did.”
Lhota also gave a detailed look at his decision to run for mayor and his related discussions with Governor Cuomo.
80 empty oceanfront acres waiting for development – what could be hard about that?
In the case of Arverne East, a large vacant parcel of land in Rockaway, it’s been 40 years of challenges. In modern times, the 2008 recession deflated the last real effort at development. Paradoxically, Hurricane Sandy, which inundated the area, spurred the site developers to restart their efforts. Their efforts have meshed with Mayor Bloomberg’s renewed determination to encourage waterfront development, producing significant progress. As we reported in May, the Bloomberg administration organized a design competition seeking proposals incorporating the best ideas for resilient waterfront development. This past week, a winning design was selected and announced at an onsite ceremony. (The winning design is here.)
In this report, we look at the winning design with the lead designer, discuss major challenges and timing with the City commissioner in charge of the process and consider financing needs and timing with the lead developer.
Bill de Blasio visited Rockaway’s Breezy Point today, seeing Sandy recovery progress firsthand.
As part of his visit, de Blasio met with a small group of community leaders in Breezy Point. The discussion (during the portion the press was allowed in, at least) focused on some longterm challenges for Rockaway, including rebuilding and the powerful economic issue of flood insurance, both it’s pricing and it’s applicability. Changes underway, in part the result of the Biggert-Waters Act, and changes in the National Flood Insurance Program, may have profound consequences for Rockaway and other waterfront areas. The answers aren’t easy, or even apparent yet for some questions.
Here is de Blasio’s full Q&A with the press.
Update – Beware the Basketball Invite:
In a lighthearted (we think) moment, Kevin Boyle invited mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio to join a 50+ basketball league organized by the Graybeards. de Blasio wisely deferred on agreeing to give angry Yankee and Giant fans an opportunity for revenge.
After touring the Achiezer Community Resource Center, Lhota spoke with the press. Among the topics: the need to restructure city government for the first time in 11 years, Lhota’s recent ad and his view of Bill de Blasio, Banksy, the number of police officers and his synagogue mini-kerfuffle.
Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio visited Rockaway yesterday, touring the closed Peninsula Hospital, visiting a family who continues to work on post-Sandy repairs to their home and attending a forum hosted by Faith in New York at St. Mary Star of the Sea in Far Rockaway. Although Rockaway has progressed greatly in recovering from Sandy, much work remains. Many residents and businesses continue repairing their damaged property and reorganizing their lives as the city and federal governments repair infrastructure and contemplate future steps.
Rockaway has long had severe financial and social stresses, with some sections as rough and impoverished as any in the city. Those rougher sections of Rockaway happen to have an ocean beach, but they’re weighed down by the same troubles as neighborhoods in less bucolic locations. Everyone in Rockaway, whatever their economic status, race and ethnicity or political views, was severely affected by Sandy and has faced great challenges in struggling to recover. Unsurprisingly, however, those on the down side of Rockaway’s long standing economic and social fault lines faced Sandy with the least; the least money, the least ability to relocate, the least political influence, the fewest options, and have been the slowest to recover. It was this part of Rockaway that de Blasio visited yesterday.
Press Q & A:
Following the forum, de Blasio spoke with the press.
Here are two excerpts covering Rockaway-specific questions. The first, from Kevin Boyle of The Wave, addresses the dramatic increases in flood insurance resulting from the Biggert-Waters Act.
The second, from Katie Honan of DNAinfo and co-founder of Rockaway Help, addresses the hospital crisis in Rockaway following the closing of Peninsula Hospital and the current stress on Rockaway’s sole remaining hospital, St. John’s Episcopal.
Here is de Blasio’s full Q&A with the press, including his opening statement describing his visit.
Update – Forum on Sandy Recovery:
In his remarks at the forum on Hurricane Sandy recovery, hosted by Faith In New York, de Blasio called for an expansive use of Sandy recovery money. He advocated addressing many of Rockaway’s long standing social and economic issues, calling it “our obligation … to figure out how much good we can do with the resources that we’re receiving, and not just in the narrow sense of helping people immediately in need, but how can we change the structure of things.” Here are selected excerpts from his comments.
On a sweltering July afternoon, Anthony Weiner walked the beach in Rockaway. He received a warm welcome in his former congressional district, with many well-wishers pledging support.
Sipping Suds Seaside:
In our first report, we have a brief look at Weiner indulging in a few seaside sips of suds.
Update #1 – Weiner Discusses Rockaway Issues:
As Anthony Weiner finished his Rockaway beach walk, we asked his views on several issues impacting Rockaway.
Update #2 – Weiner Discusses 15 Years of Campaigning in Rockaway:
Anthony Weiner engaged in an extended discussion of Rockaway and his experience running in and representing Rockaway. This report includes a discussion between Ruby Cramer of Buzzfeed.com and Anthony Weiner. You can read Ruby’s report here.
Update #3 – Beach Walk
Here’s a look at the reception Weiner received from his former constituents.
Also, be sure to watch our coverage of Anthony Weiner’s call for a “Declaration of Independence from Albany”, here.
In this report, we look at a real estate development project of mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis.
Catsimatidis is working on building three waterfront residential towers, with some commercial space, on Surf Avenue between West 35th and West 37th Street in Coney Island. From our review of public records, entities controlled by Catsimatidis purchased the property in 2008, for a purchase price of approximately $33.5 million. The project has been winding it’s way through the City approval process, with an estimated start date in 2013.
Hurricane Sandy made the challenges of waterfront development acutely clear. How will Catsimatidis’s project fare? Watch.
Be sure to also watch our report on Arverne East, an oceanfront development in Rockaway, for a look at another post-Sandy approach to waterfront development in New York City.
On Thursday, approximately 20 groups from areas affected by Hurricane Sandy held a forum focused on recovery from Sandy and the future of New York City’s flood zone.
In this excerpt, John Catsimatidis describes being dispatched by Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg to ask the senate minority leader, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, to provide eight votes for the Sandy relief bills.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a package of ten proposed bills, prepared following a series of council hearings examining the City’s response to Hurricane Sandy. The bills include a number of specific directives to OEM, the Office of Emergency Management, as well as other measures aimed at avoiding future traffic and fuel management troubles.
Here is our report:
We also have the full statements of Speaker Quinn and Council Member Donovan Richards, who represents a large portion of Rockaway:
The United States Army Corps of Engineers is performing substantial Sandy-recovery work in Rockaway and elsewhere. We spoke with Colonel Paul Owen, commander of the New York District of the Army Corps of Engineers, for an update on their progress and a look ahead.
Additional detailed information from the Army Corps of Engineers is available here.