Manhattan Beach activists: Storm funding went toward unnecessary work

Originally published in News 12 Brooklyn on November 04, 2019.

Some Manhattan Beach activists were left feeling vulnerable and worried after they say funding that was supposed to go to storm resiliency in the area is going to unnecessary work.

Construction is currently going on at the Promenade in Manhattan Beach Park, but activists say the state isn't looking towards resilience. More than seven years after Superstorm Sandy neighbors still feel vulnerable to flooding.

For years, residents say they have expressed their desire for the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program. They say it is to provide valves for homeowners in order to prevent sewage backups. They say it is also for generators for the neighborhood stores that sell necessities. They say part of the $4.5 million in federal money allocated by the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery for the park is being put toward unnecessary work in a memorial garden dedicated to a beloved activist.

This is something residents say isn't focusing on their main concern -- to prevent damage from another storm. A spokesperson from the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery says in a statement, "GOSR committed approximately $4.5 million to enhance the resiliency of the Manhattan Beach Promenade based on priorities of the local NY Rising Community Reconstruction Committee."

That work will include repaving the Promenade, adding new entrance ways, ramps, stairs and rails. The work on the memorial garden will include the planting of salt water-resistant shrubs and flood-absorbent greenery.

The city's Park Department, which was in charge of the project implementation, tells News 12 in part, "The reconstruction of the promenade includes reinforcing the concrete substructure, strengthening the structure and making it more storm-resistant to help prevent whole sections of concrete washing away in a future storm, while also strengthening the promenade as a barrier that can withstand wave action and help to retain more sand on the beach."

The question of resiliency funding was brought up at a community meeting two weeks ago where residents asked to investigate whether the money is being spent in the best possible way.

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, who was at the meeting, says, "On an issue as vital as emergency preparation and resilience, residents need clear communication from city officials and to have confidence their tax dollars are being well spent."

The chair of Community Board 15 says they tried to follow up with the state to see how their concerns are being addressed, but had no luck.