The Tropical Storm Irene-wrecked Magnolia Boulevard Playground is slated for refurbishment as reimbursement funds start to trickle into Long Beach from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The City Council on April 3 voted unanimously to allow City Manager Jack Schnirman to contract with the Holbrook-based Louis Barbato Landscaping to resurface the playground, rehabilitate the existing fencing and rebuild a protective cinderblock wall that abutted the boardwalk, separating the park from the beach, after the storm-driven ocean demolished it last August.
The contract to refurbish the playground is $120,325 and the city expects to be reimbursed 87.5 percent for the project, 75 percent of the funds coming from FEMA and an additional 12.5 percent from the State of New York based on earlier submittals to the federal agency, said Jim LaCarrubba, commissioner of public works.
“We’ll also be reimbursed for the cost of materials and labor for that reconstruction,” LaCarrubba told the council at Tuesday’s meeting.
The total reimbursement request the city made to FEMA to refurbish Magnolia playground, prior to three bids the city received April 2, was about $169,000, he added.
Councilman John McLaughlin expressed concern that a landscaping company would perform the work. “I’m just curious what their history is with concrete and rubberized surface, and has the city done business with them before,” he asked.
Barbato Landscaping has performed contract work for a variety villages and townships, including Babylon, Hempstead and Oyster Bay, to their satisfaction, but never for Long Beach, LaCarrubba said.
FEMA recently sent Long Beach its first reimbursement check, in the amount of $4,400 for one of the first projects the prior administration submitted to the agency after last year’s storm, totally about $1.7 million. “We’re encouraged to receive our first check and hopefully they will continue to come in,” LaCarrubba said.
The new public works commissioner said the city continues to work with FEMA representatives and expects submittals for reimbursement will continue for about another month. “About three or four times a week we're on the phone or FEMA is here still taking photographs or doing site inspections along the boardwalk areas,” he noted.
Councilman Michael Fagen asked if any FEMA funds were targeted for two other playgrounds, Sherman Brown Park in North Park and the Georgia Avenue Park in the West End. LaCarrubba said he didn’t believe FEMA requests were submitted for those parks, but that the city would use some of its community development funds for at least the North Park playground.
Last August, the City Council approved a resolution to apply for a matching grant to renovate the Georgia Avenue playground by tapping into $400,000 in funds from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Former City Manager Charles Theofan estimated then that the playground in North Park would be renovated long before the Georgia playground since money was already set aside for that project in community development funds, and that the city was waiting for community input on whether the equipment there should be better suited for teens or younger children or a combination of both.
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