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.
Last night the Democratic mayoral candidates had their first “official” debate. After more than 100 forums and debates hosted by different groups around the city, and televised debates on NY1 and WABC-TV Channel 7, the Democratic mayoral candidates participated in their first “official” debate organized by the New York City Campaign Finance Board under the city’s election laws.
For our initial report, we look at a question asked by moderator Errol Louis: “Should you be free to drink a beer on your own stoop?” In some neighborhoods, residents have been ticketed for doing so. Their anger at being ticketed has been further stoked by pictures of Mayor Bloomberg violating the same prohibition, unticketed, drinking wine at concerts in Central Park. We spoke with Anthony Weiner on this topic, who offered a broader assessment.
1199SEIU held a rally this week to push for the continuing operation of St. John’s Hospital in Far Rockaway. St. John’s is the sole hospital on the Rockaway peninsula, Peninsula Hospital having closed last year.
We’ll start our coverage with a brief clip of Dante de Blasio speaking at the rally. (We’re unclear on why the MC referred to him as Jonathan … but we think it’s Dante.)
We spoke with New York State Senator Joe Addabbo about the mayor’s race, and particularly on how his constituents view the race. Are his constituents paying attention to the race? Do they have a clear favorite in the race? How do they view Anthony Weiner?
Addabbo’s district covers most of Rockaway and runs north through Broad Channel, Howard Beach and Ozone Park to Middle Village, Maspeth, Ridgewood and Forest Hills. Anthony Weiner’s congressional district overlapped with Addabbo’s district.
We also spoke with New York State Assembly Member Phillip Goldfeder about the mayor’s race and how his constituents view the race.
Goldfeder’s district covers most of Rockaway, Broad Channel, Howard Beach and Ozone Park. Like Addabbo, his district overlaps with Anthony Weiner’s former congressional district.
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.
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: