A committee of Long Beach city officials, civic heads and other community leaders recently formed to collaborate on planning projects in an effort to rebuild the city’s infrastructure after Hurricane Sandy.
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The Community Reconstruction Zone Committee, which held their inaugural meeting on Wednesday, is a creation of NY Rising Community Reconstruction, a program designed to provide rebuilding and revitalization assistance to communities damaged by hurricanes Sandy, Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, according to the program’s overview.
“The committee will be reviewing previous planning efforts that the city has undertaken and working with expert consultants on plans to rebuild the city, using principles of resiliency and sustainability to protect the city’s infrastructure, promote economic development, and germinate shovel-ready projects that will qualify for state and federal funding,” Gordon Tepper, a city spokesman, told Patch.
The Long Beach committee co-chairs are John McNally and Joel Crystal. McNally, who works at Energeia Partnership at Molloy College and spearheaded the Screw the Boardwalk initiative, has a planning background, the city said. A lifelong Long Beach resident, Joel Crystal is a former City Council president and a retired teacher from the Long Beach School District.
City Manager Jack Schnirman and Director of Community Development Michael Robinson will serve on the committee, and City Council President Scott Mandel will act as the council liaison to the committee. Director of Economic Development Patricia Bourne and Department of Works Commissioner Jim LaCarrubba are both ex officio members.
“We set criteria for committee members, as did the state, and the state ultimately approved the entire committee who were chosen to represent a cross section of the community,” Tepper said.
The committee consists of heads and members of various Long Beach organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, West End Neighbors Civic Association, Martin Luther King Center, Concerned Citizens of North Park, Latino Civic Association, Long Beach Historical Society, Real Estate Professionals, Surfrider Foundation and West End Beautification.
“They are people who share the vision of the City Council and administration for resiliency and possess the time, knowledge, and ability to participate in an eight-month planning process,” said Tepper, referring to the program’s overview that states the committee will take the lead in developing a conceptual plan by the end of October and a final plan within eight months from the start of the planning process.
John Bendo, president of the West End Neighbors Civic Association, was among the community leaders appointed to the committee.
“I’m not on it specifically to represent the West end, but I’m on it basically because of my position with West End Neighbors,” Bendo said when he announced the committee at the civic association’s monthly meeting at the West End Community Center on Wednesday.
Bendo said Long Beach has been allocated $25 million for the program, but when asked, the city didn’t confirm that amount.
One requirement of the committee is that meetings are open to the public and invite community input.
“To participate in the process we’re going to have public input meetings, like they did for the boardwalk,” Bendo said.