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Nassau lawmakers vote to continue lawn reseeding program

Nassau County legislators have approved $14.4 million in new borrowing to continue a program to reseed the lawns of homes damaged during superstorm Sandy.

Nassau began the Clean and Seed program in May 2013 to repair lawns in East Rockaway and on Barnes Avenue in Baldwin that were damaged when a sewage pipe burst after Sandy, sending raw sewage flowing into basements and neighborhood streets. The program later grew to include lawns throughout the county that suffered flood damage.

The vote Monday came after legislative Democrats agreed to provide the votes necessary for bonding. The GOP controls the legislature with an 11-8 majority, and a two-thirds vote is required for borrowing.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican, said the "bipartisan agreement allows the county to continue the work it started in helping homeowners recover from the storm."

Last year, Nassau spent $2 million in bonded funds to replace 3 inches of topsoil and to reseed 200 homes, predominantly those that suffered sewage damage. The program ran out of cash when Nassau expanded its scope.

The program has a backlog of nearly 1,500 homes.

Democrats refused last year to back borrowing of $14.4 million to continue the program, complaining that Republicans had not provided enough information about the repair schedule and had yet to agree to hold hearings on the projects.

Democrats on the legislature's rules and finance committees voted unanimously for the funding on Monday. Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said the reversal came after the administration provided updated details about the program's backlog.

"We want to do everything we can to show support for families impacted by Sandy," Abrahams said.

The bonding will go before the full legislature on June 16.

"This is one more way that we can help to return the lives of Sandy victims to normal," said Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow). "I'm pleased that we can implement this program at the optimal time for the lawns to flourish."Nassau will seek reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Clean and Seed expenses, said Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin.Mangano, county lawmakers and area homeowners are expected to hold a news conference Thursday to announce resumption of the program.

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