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New York Rising groups in Oakdale-West Sayville and South Valley Stream win $3M each in funding

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, left,

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at the NY Rising Conference at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Credit: Philip Kamrass

ALBANY - Two New York Rising community groups on Long Island -- one from Oakdale-West Sayville, the other from South Valley Stream -- each won an additional $3 million in superstorm Sandy resiliency aid, doubling their initial funding.

They are among eight groups from across the state to get additional funds. The winners, announced Wednesday in Albany, were recognized for the collaborative nature of their plans, for the degree of community involvement in crafting the proposals, and for innovative and cost-effective financing, among other factors.

The next step, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said, is for the groups to make their proposals a reality -- and quickly.

"Surprise people by how fast you can move," he said. "Defy expectations. There is nothing like seeing progress."

Cuomo said the state will have another competition later this year based in part on how well the plans are executed. Winners will be announced in January and will take home a share of $50 million.

The New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program was formed more than a year ago with the goal of better preparing the region for future storms. On Long Island, 21 groups of committee members have been meeting for months -- with state guidance -- to develop ways to improve their communities' infrastructure.

All 21 groups will be receiving federal money from the state for their proposed projects; only Oakdale-West Sayville and South Valley Stream are winners of the extra $3 million each.

Richard Remmer, co-chair for the Oakdale-West Sayville committee, said the award validates his group's plan -- and brings it closer to reaching its infrastructure goals.

He called the New York Rising program "rewarding and fruitful" and said the grassroots approach worked.

"It would have been very different for the federal government or state to come in and try to identify the specific needs for each of our communities," he said, adding that for local residents, those needs are "painfully obvious."

His group won for proposing a plan that has both public and private funding, including plans for a bike share and a water taxi.

Marc J. Tenzer, chairman of the South Valley Stream group, called the win "a big relief," saying it will go far in funding additional projects. His group, recognized for its planned use of green infrastructure, aims to restore and improve a shoreline pathway by planting trees and other vegetation and repairing outfalls.

All of the New York Rising groups' final plans were due to the state March 31. Experts from the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery will spend the next several months examining the proposals. State officials said earlier this week they hope some projects will begin before the end of the year.

There were 13 New York Rising groups in Nassau County. Together, they've proposed 133 projects and can get as much as $195 million in funding. Suffolk, which was not hit as hard, had eight community groups and put forth roughly 65 projects that are eligible for as much as $49 million.

Cuomo, speaking broadly about storm preparedness, said New Yorkers have long built too close to the water.

"Mother Nature was trying to tell us something," he said. "As sophisticated as we are, she still wins. We were encroaching on her territory."

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