A year after superstorm Sandy, rebuilding in some city neighborhoods — most notably Coney Island and the Rockaways — seems to have stalled.
Some Coney Island residents have bemoaned a sluggish pace of rebuilding at public meetings attended by Manny Papir, who was part of City Hall’s response team after 9/11.
Papir, a disaster relief coordinator for the area, says he’s taken a verbal thrashing from the community for a seemingly slow response effort. “As much as the city is prepared to do, it’s up to a community how it responds and bounces back,” he says.
Some residents point to N.J. Gov. Chris Christie’s “Stronger Than the Storm” campaign, which they say drew attention from Coney Island to the Jersey shore.
Coney Island seems to be slowly bouncing back, though. Recent milestones include last Friday’s reopening of a public library with state-of-the-art resources and a wooden ceiling crafted with planks from the original boardwalk.
Councilman Domenic M. Recchia Jr. says the city learned not to make snap judgments after a major storm after the initial response to Hurricane Katrina. “[Post-Katrina workers] rushed to get things done. That’s why they’re still having problems today,” he said. “We had to take time to do things the right way.”
Doing things right, he said, included the time-consuming removal of mold from some homes, while gutting others to rebuild properly.
Some local business owners say it’s crucial for city assistance to be ongoing.
Terence Tubridy is president of In Good Company Hospitality, which owns properties in Far Rockaway and Manhattan affected by delayed recovery efforts.
His newest restaurant, Parker & Quinn, opened in the Refinery Hotel in May, navigating the delay by officials of all new city construction following Sandy. The hotel could not be wired until damaged buildings were repaired. Tubridy, who has roots in Far Rockaway, believes that if developed properly, the area could compete with Montauk as a staycation spot.
“We need more options,” he said, including a ferry service to Manhattan.
He and others like him are on the right track. But it will take years to get there.