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Long IslandPolitics

Long Beach hires former state Sen. Mike Balboni’s company

Long Beach City Hall at 1 West Chester

Long Beach City Hall at 1 West Chester St., Long Beach, shown on March 28, 2013, is being eyed for a $1 million emergency operations center. Photo Credit: Tara Conry

Long Beach city officials are planning to give the barrier island its own emergency operations center by using $1 million in state funds to upgrade City Hall.

The Long Beach City Council voted Tuesday night to hire a Manhattan consulting firm, RedLand Strategies, which is headed by former state Sen. Mike Balboni and former New York Deputy Homeland Security Commissioner Michael Sherry.

The city plans to use $1 million of the $25 million allocated by the governor’s Community Reconstruction Program to make City Hall a command center in the event of a disaster on the level of superstorm Sandy.

RedLand Strategies, which provides consulting services on emergency management, storm recovery and homeland security, is to receive $4,000 a month from Long Beach for one year. The city maintains the option of renewing the contract for two years after the first 12 months.

Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman said superstorm Sandy demonstrated that the city needed its own emergency response center to work in conjunction with Nassau County’s services in Bethpage.

“One thing we learned as a community is we’ve got to prepare for these things,” Schnirman said. “It’s far better to prepare before and not react later.”

RedLand Strategies was chosen to help design the city’s emergency center, train Long Beach staff and help the city develop a training curriculum for staff.

The city issued a request for proposals and awarded the contract to RedLand, based on qualifications, experience and cost, city officials said. One other plan was submitted by Tidal Basin Group in Alexandria, Virginia.

“A little money spent up front is better than a lot later,” Schnirman said.

RedLand Strategies had been previously criticized for a $200,000 no-bid security contract awarded by Nassau County for the county’s crime lab.

Sherry said the firm brings to Long Beach the expertise of New York City training and disaster drills. He said RedLand officials will conduct four tabletop emergency scenarios in Long Beach focusing on departmental response failures so the city’s emergency vulnerabilities can be improved.

“We need our own secure facility and we need something here to coordinate our needs on our barrier island,” Schnirman said.

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