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Robert Moses State Park to get $23M in dune aid

The remains of the Robert Moses State Park,

The remains of the Robert Moses State Park, Field 5 boardwalk after it was destroyed by superstorm Sandy. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

New York State will spend $23 million in federal aid shoring up dunes at Robert Moses State Park to help it withstand storms, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to announce Friday.

Plans call for placing up to 600,000 cubic yards of sand on beaches, building dunes around the park's traffic circle and restoring native plants.

The work at the Babylon park will enhance emergency repairs done before last summer. Some sand will be stockpiled for future use, according to Cuomo's office.

"This is a critical part of our efforts to not just build back, but to reimagine our state's beaches and parks for a new reality -- ensuring that Robert Moses State Park remains a popular coastal destination for New Yorkers and visitors," Cuomo said in a statement.

Dredging in the State Boat Channel is to start this weekend and continue into June. About a third of the sand to be dredged should be placed on the beach by April 1, when that part of the project will halt until after Sept. 1, a Cuomo official said, apparently to protect the nesting season for the piping plover. No completion date for the project was announced.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the park a vital storm defense for the South Shore. "This federal funding will be crucial in helping us rebuild the beach, protect emergency evacuation roads and fortify the barrier island that acts as a shield to Long Island's South Shore communities," he said in a statement.

A dredge is already in the area, expediting the project, Schumer's office said.

In another development Thursday, officials unveiled the Long Island Disaster Recovery Center in Central Islip, giving volunteers from around the country who rebuild superstorm Sandy-damaged homes a place to stay.

A $600,000 grant from the American Red Cross will help keep the program running until December, said Gwen O'Shea, chief executive of the nonprofit Health & Welfare Council of Long Island.

The initiative was expected to shut down at the end of 2013 because rentals are so scarce that volunteers had to even bunk down in a funeral home, she said.

At the ribbon-cutting, officials vowed to continue their efforts until every Long Islander displaced by Sandy returns to their homes.

"There is no question that there are people still out of their homes who are still struggling," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.

Volunteers staying at the center will pay $15 a day for room and board. The facility will also house a number of agencies, providing aid ranging from mold remediation to legal services.

"We know that part of the rebuilding requires the brick and mortar, . . . but we also recognize that individuals, particularly those most in need, most at risk, need help rebuilding their families," O'Shea said.

The center is in a converted three-story brick building on a former campus of the New York Institute of Technology, officials said.

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