Island Park-area residents and elected officials are asking for the state to reverse its decision to deny funding for some homeowners to fix bulkheads damaged by superstorm Sandy.
Residents in about 50 homes on California Place North and South on Barnum Island outside Island Park said the New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery granted them funding to maintain bulkheads along California Canal across the street from their homes — but the grants were rescinded last month.
Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) sent a letter Monday to the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, asking that the state-run NY Rising program restore the funding.
“All were assured that funding to repair or replace bulkheads would be forthcoming and were issued an initial grant award,” Kaminsky wrote. “Now, a staggering four years later, all are being told that because their bulkheading is across the street from their home, New York Rising will not be paying for or reimbursing for repairs.”
Residents own the parcels of land containing their homes, as well as the parcels across from their homes between the street and the canal, according to the letter.
Officials with the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery said in a statement that any funding by NY Rising for bulkheads must show the structures are directly protecting a house damaged by superstorm Sandy.
“We understand and are aware of the Barnum Island property owners’ concerns, and we are in no way discounting or minimizing them,” the statement read. “When the bulkhead is across the street from the property, it is not directly protecting the integrity of the house, and so would not be eligible for federal funds.”
Patti Ambrosia, who lives on California Place, said she applied for NY Rising funding about 18 months ago. After a June 2015 state inspection, she was approved last year for $77,000 in funding. Her home is the third house along the canal off Reynolds Channel and was destroyed along with the bulkhead during Sandy.
After she was approved, she signed a contract with a licensed builder, but said the process was delayed while her NY Rising caseworker said they were still waiting to review her submitted permits. She was told in October that her bulkheads were not covered because they were across the street from her home.
Ambrosia said she is moving ahead with the project using a loan because she needs the bulkheads built and cannot break a contract with her builder.
“To say we’re not covered in our front yard means we’re stuck,” Ambrosia said. “We didn’t wait for a second opinion because they sent me these letters to say we had the funds.”
Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, who is a former Island Park fire chief, said the bulkheads are vital to protecting homes in the canal, which leads to the village’s main street.
“It’s an area that is very unique. There are not a ton of places where they have bulkheading in front of their homes, but I know how critical it is,” D’Esposito said. “NY Rising needs to step up and do their part for Island Park.”