Editorial: Long Beach's smart plan to fix bulkheads
Long Beach residents were slammed hard by superstorm Sandy and, like thousands across Long Island, continue to struggle. Repairs to battered homes have been costly, beyond the means of many. Reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and insurance companies have been slow in coming. Now the city's government -- struggling with its own finances, a situation that predates Sandy's arrival last October -- has stepped up with an innovative plan to help homeowners along the bay side. That's good news, indeed.
Besides the destruction it wrought on the ocean side, Sandy damaged thousands of feet of bulkheading along Reynolds Channel. The city owns property there, too, but the land is primarily residential. So the city plans to float a bond to cover the cost of fixing its bulkheads and to front the money for repairs to the 300 eligible residential properties. Homeowners would repay the city through their tax bills. With individual costs running into the tens of thousands of dollars, the city hopes to leverage its buying power to lower bills.
Long Islanders know we need to build back stronger to protect ourselves from the next Sandy, but paying for that remains an issue. Long Beach's program is a classic win-win. Homeowners can make needed repairs and stretch payments across 20 years; if they qualify later for FEMA funds, they can use that money for repayment. And Long Beach has recourse if a resident refuses to pay; the city can seize the property for nonpayment of taxes. Meanwhile, the city wins in a larger way in that everyone benefits from stronger bulwarks against future storms.
More than 30 homeowners have signed up. Many more have made inquiries. They should take the next step.