Although Long Beach officials declared the rebuilding of the boardwalk “substantially complete” Tuesday, questions about the exact amount the federal government will reimburse the city for the $44.2 million project remain unanswered.
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While City officials continue to work with the state Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine that amount, FEMA officials said a decision must come after the project is completed, according to Newsday.
Dan Watson, a FEMA spokesman, said:
"FEMA is continuing to work with the State of New York and the City of Long Beach on the process for reimbursing all eligible costs related to the Long Beach boardwalk.”
FEMA spokesman Ray Perez told Patch in August that the agency provides funds to restore damaged public facilities struck by disaster if they meet certain eligibility requirements, and that President Obama approved a federal cost-share increase from 75 to 90 percent for Hurricane Sandy-related projects in New York funded by FEMA. The increase allows FEMA to reimburse 90 percent of the eligible costs, with the remaining 10 percent coming from state and local sources.
Throughout the rebuilding process, city officials have maintained that they would continue to advocate for the maximum reimbursement FEMA would provide for Hurricane Sandy-related building projects, as well as try to secure other available funding on the federal, state and local levels in an effort to reduce the burden on city taxpayers.
In July, before the first section of the reconstructed boardwalk was opened, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) had said he was confident the federal government would fully reimburse the city and that he would stay on top of FEMA toward that end.
“I am fully confident that I will win my fight with FEMA and get every penny that this boardwalk costs reimbursed by the federal government –100 percent,” Schumer said at the time.
Now, as the boardwalk rebuilding nears completion and more attention turns toward financing the city of the project, Schumer said that he has lobbied FEMA to fund the bulk of the project, Newsday reports. "We're making progress, but it will be a little while before we know the result," he said.
Some Long Beach officials originally estimated that rebuilding the boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy, which substantially damaged the former 2.2-mile walkway, would cost about $25 million. The city hired Liro Engineers to manage the rebuilding project and after holding community-wide forums in which residents took surveys that revealed that most of them thought the top
priority was to build a boardwalk that was more resistant to storms, the city decided on a project with decking that consisted of a costlier tropical hardwood and concrete edges at the center of the structure, among other storm-resistant features.
Perez said the cost estimates for these materials is about 11 times more expensive than the price tag of the Southern Yellow Pine material used on the previous boardwalk.Grace Industries, the firm the city hired to rebuild the boardwalk, met a deadline to finish rebuilding the main structure by Oct. 15, and is contracted to meet a final deadline to complete minor items by Nov. 12, although the work should be completed and all sections open to the public before that date, Newsday reports.