STATEN ISLAND — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo requested federal funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Emergency Watershed Protection Program on Thursday for the purchase of 77 properties — 75 homes and two vacant parcels — in the communities of Midland Beach and New Dorp Beach on the East Shore of Staten Island.
“New York State has made great progress in helping local communities recover from the effects of Superstorm Sandy, but there is still more work to be done,” Governor Cuomo said. “I am urging Washington to help us protect Staten Island communities by delivering the funding we need for these buyouts. It is imperative that the federal government continues to support our efforts to reimagine this State for the new reality of extreme weather.”
The New York State Department of State has determined these properties were all substantially damaged or destroyed during Superstorm Sandy, were inundated by flooding from Sandy, or sit within a 100-year flood plain. Removal of structures damaged by Sandy and wetland restoration properties will positively benefit the entire floodplain and surrounding residential communities. These parcels will add to adjacent wetlands and storm management systems, such as the NYC Department of Environmental Protection Bluebelt–known as the New Creek Bluebelt–and the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, including Great Kills Park.
Storm Recovery Director Jamie Rubin said, “NY Rising is committed to ensuring that federal funds are sought and invested in projects that will lead to a stronger, more resilient New York. We strongly believe the USDA Emergency Watershed Protection Program is the right resource to enhance wetlands restorations in Midland Beach and New Dorp Beach, and the model we have developed for NY Rising will ensure the successful return of these properties to Mother Nature.”
Borough President James S. Oddo said, “I would like to thank the Cuomo administration for their recognition of how important it is to forever protect areas adjacent to our Bluebelt. Bluebelts work, and are necessary to help alleviate some of the flooding conditions that occur during even small rainstorms in flood prone areas. These properties, once acquired, will help provide a greater measure of protection for the Midland Beach and New Dorp Beach communities, which is so important for residents who have chosen to stay in those neighborhoods. I am hopeful that this funding comes soon so that our Bluebelts can be expanded as quickly as possible.”
The preliminary cost for easement, demolition, acquisition and restoration for all properties is estimated at $37 million and, if awarded, will be fully funded by the USDA Emergency Watershed Protection Program. NY Rising will administer this iniative as a distinct project from the State Buyout Program, which is funded entirely by Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR).
The Midland and New Dorp Wetlands Restoration initiative was developed with the assistance of the Midland Beach Civic Association and the New Dorp Beach Civic Association, who garnered homeowner support through petitions for these specific properties to be purchased and returned to nature. If USDA funding is secured, the properties will become a permanent part of existing adjacent wetlands restoration and can never be built on again.