Nassau residents urge Cuomo to move forward with Bay Park repairs

Nassau residents affected by superstorm Sandy rally outside Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building on March 5, 2014, urging Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to expedite payments to homeowners waiting to be made whole more than 16 months after the storm struck. (Credit: Newsday / Chuck Fadely)

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Nassau residents told Cuomo representatives Wednesday night they're glad the governor wants to make long-overdue repairs to the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, which failed during superstorm Sandy, but said they were concerned with the project's pace.

They also urged the Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to expedite payments to homeowners waiting to be made whole more than 16 months after the storm struck.

Cathy Dougherty, 52, of Island Park, has been living in a Queens hotel with her husband and two children for more than a year. Her home was demolished, she said.

Dougherty hopes to build anew on the property, but isn't sure when that will happen.

She said state workers hired to help homeowners navigate the process offer conflicting responses.

"I'm no closer to going home than I was the day after the storm," she said. "We deserve better than this."

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Her son, Patrick, 25, said he's given up guessing when the family will return to Island Park.

"You don't want to get excited," he said. "You just get so jaded. It's just sad."

Cathy Dougherty was one of two dozen people who spoke at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola during the second of two Long Island public hearings hosted by Cuomo's Office of Storm Recovery concerning the latest round of federal recovery aid: $2.097 billion.

The first forum was hosted in Hauppauge Feb. 27; residents there listed sewage systems among their greatest worries.

The October 2012 storm damaged or destroyed more than 95,000 buildings on the Island, causing $8.4 billion in property and economic losses for Nassau and Suffolk.

Bay Park lost power and dumped 100 million gallons of raw sewage and 2.2 billion gallons of partially treated wastewater into Reynolds channel in the days after the storm. Cuomo has said he plans to spend hundreds of millions to improve it.

A Cuomo representative did not answer the speakers' questions or claims but vowed to record them and include responses in a later document.

Some residents have already repaired and or raised their homes while others are still waiting for funding to elevate or make other changes.

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As that process moves forward, community-based New York Rising groups have been meeting across both counties to identify their greatest infrastructure needs. The 21 groups are weeks away from sending their final proposals to the state for approval. Some $240 million of the $2.097 billion in federal money will be used to address the needs they identify.

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