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Sea Gate, NY - Gated Communities Seek Government Intervention In Storm’s Aftermath

Published on: November 27, 2012 09:15 PM
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NYC Council speaker Cristine Quinn, Councilman Domonick Reccia, Sea Gate police officer, Sea Gate’s Association President Pinny Dembitzer Surveying damage in Sea Gate two days after Sandy. Photo: Shimon GifterNYC Council speaker Cristine Quinn, Councilman Domonick Reccia, Sea Gate police officer, Sea Gate’s Association President Pinny Dembitzer Surveying damage in Sea Gate two days after Sandy. Photo: Shimon Gifter

Sea Gate, NY - Residents in gated communities like Sea Gate, Brooklyn and Breezy Point, Queens have long enjoyed a certain anonymity – so much so, that many of their streets do not even appear on City maps.

Those who live in these middle-class neighborhoods not only pay their maintenance and association charges, but also willingly absorb the cost of maintaining their streets and sidewalks, their sewer system, their parks, and the operation of their own police department – all for the sake of safety and exclusivity. They also pay sewer, water, and property taxes to the City.

But all that changed when Sandy hit, leaving a trail of destruction in her wake. The havoc inflicted on Sea Gate and Breezy Point has residents who previously subscribed to a “hands-off” approach with the government now asking for local, state and federal intervention.

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The New York Times reports (http://nyti.ms/TjWCKU) that residents cannot afford the cost of rebuilding both their homes and the common infrastructure. “We’d be foolish not to ask for help,” said Steven Greenberg, the former chairman of the Breezy Point Cooperative Board. “We would hope that we see something [from the government], but if we don’t see something, we’re prepared to go forward to keep the community.”

The City has responded to the call for help by sending out private contractors with bulldozers to remove sand and hunks of concrete from Sea Gate’s streets, as well as trucks with vacuums to clean sand out of the sewers.

Over in Breezy Point, the Department of Environmental Protection has provided drinking water to the residents. But for now, it remains unclear how much of a role the government will take in assisting the rebuilding effort in gated communities.

Deputy Mayor for Operations Caswell Holloway said City Hall wants to help all people severely impacted by the storm – including those in private communities – “get back to normal as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
“We’re not going to let the form of the community, whether private or gated, stand in the way of getting the outcome we all want, which is to help them recover,” he said. “It’s in everyone’s interest to get these communities back. If they’re successful, the City is successful.”

William Korn, 52, a bakery owner and Sea Gate resident whose home sustained more than $300,000 in damage, concurs with Holloway’s sentiment. He says the City should pay to rebuild the devastated communities. “I don’t pay for water?” he asked incredulously. “I don’t pay real estate taxes – $6,000 a year? I don’t pay for services? I pay for those. Just because we have a private community? I pay for that private community.”

Sea Gate’s Association President Pinny Dembitzer said prior to the storm, many residents were already having difficulty paying their maintenance charges, placing a strain on the association. “If they can’t get enough money to build their homes, they can’t have enough money to rebuild the sea wall. But if they don’t rebuild the sea wall, they can’t rebuild their homes,” he said.

Councilman Domenic Recchia, Jr., who represents Sea Gate, had been working with City officials to upgrade the gated community’s sewers even before Sandy hit. “Just because they’re a gated community, they’re still citizens and pay taxes,” he said. “They won’t be able to sustain themselves. Anybody can say what they want, but we can’t turn our back on them.”


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Read Comments (13)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Nov 27, 2012 at 10:14 PM Renegade Says:

If they pay city taxes the city should provide services when needed, even though they normally decline these services.

2

 Nov 27, 2012 at 10:52 PM Hatzolhack Says:

Pinny Dembitzer is a real mentsch. He is the right person to be the president of the association.
I hope and wish him hatzlocha in his restoration efforts.
Chazak!

3

 Nov 28, 2012 at 01:42 AM Anonymous Says:

Did they talk during davening in sea gate shuls

4

 Nov 28, 2012 at 04:39 AM Shabbos SeaGate Says:

first they have to build a big wall that prevents hurricanes from flooding seagate, if not then it isnt worth it to rebuild the houses and then have another hurricane come next year and destroy their houses again.

as per al gore there will be such hurricanes every year due to global warming.

5

 Nov 28, 2012 at 06:25 AM Ulysses Says:

Why should the city, state, or federal government help these communities? If people chose not to have flood insurance, because they were unwilling to pay the premiums, then they must live with the consequences. There were warnings for years, that a flood, such as the one which struck NYC in 1938, could reoccur. The residents in these impacted areas, chose to live near the ocean, and knew that there was always the danger of a massive storm. Incidentally, there are many residents in Breezy Point, who have nothing but contempt for people on welfare. Yet, when the shoe is on the other foot, they want the government to essentially provide welfare for them, pertaining to rebuilding their homes.

6

 Nov 28, 2012 at 08:50 AM long island bubby Says:

According to my read of flood insurance policies (I live on the south shore of long island that was badly damaged by the past storm), this policy will NOT pay fully to rebuild. It is not like homeowners which can be a "replacement" policy. Flood insurance has many, many exclusions ie: personal property in basements, etc. It also pays "depreciation" value of your possessions. If you have a very expensive sofa, in perfect condition, it makes no difference. If it is valued at $1,000. today and cost $7,000. to replace, you only get $1,000.

Many members of my shul, who have flood insurance are in trouble. Their garages, den, kitchen, dining room & living rooms were flooded. If your kitchen cost $50,000. (total) to install 5 years ago, today, in real dollars, it would cost at least $60,000. to replace. You ONLY get the depreciated value of your kitchen and appliances.

You do the math.
Without government intervention, most people have no hope of replacing what they lost, only making hard, hard choices where to spend the money their insurance policy pays out.
But my greatest fear is the Yeshivas. With such massive losses, who can afford to pay tuition, let alone full tuition?

7

 Nov 28, 2012 at 08:57 AM CSLMoish Says:

Reply to #5  
Ulysses Says:

Why should the city, state, or federal government help these communities? If people chose not to have flood insurance, because they were unwilling to pay the premiums, then they must live with the consequences. There were warnings for years, that a flood, such as the one which struck NYC in 1938, could reoccur. The residents in these impacted areas, chose to live near the ocean, and knew that there was always the danger of a massive storm. Incidentally, there are many residents in Breezy Point, who have nothing but contempt for people on welfare. Yet, when the shoe is on the other foot, they want the government to essentially provide welfare for them, pertaining to rebuilding their homes.

Useless" We are not asking for welfare. We pay taxes like everyone else and we have not used the city services for a hundred years! We pave our own streets clean our own snow use our own Police depoartment. So now we are asking for what's rightfully ours.

8

 Nov 28, 2012 at 09:04 AM breezy point- free land Says:

If I remember correctly, the land under most houses in Breezy Point was not owned by the homeowner till a few years ago. The deal sold city land very cheap to them.

9

 Nov 28, 2012 at 09:56 AM Benjey Says:

Sea gate has always been a place where you pay more taxes and you got nothing for it it took years till they repaved a few streets

10

 Nov 28, 2012 at 10:07 AM You won't want to hear this but Says:

NYC should take these communities by eminent domain and build them up as sea walls to protect the rest of Queens from future storm surges. Your tax money isn't an insurance policy and it hasn't been held in escrow from year to year, just like if you pay yeshiva tuition you can't go and say the city should pay your yeshiva tuition since you also pay taxes. In both cases you've chosen not to use city services - no one forced you to pay extra for a gated community or for yeshiva tuition.

Since you have to resettle anyhow, esp. if you can't afford to rebuild, make aliyah!! NOW is the time!!

11

 Nov 28, 2012 at 10:31 AM MAYERFREUND Says:

Reply to #5  
Ulysses Says:

Why should the city, state, or federal government help these communities? If people chose not to have flood insurance, because they were unwilling to pay the premiums, then they must live with the consequences. There were warnings for years, that a flood, such as the one which struck NYC in 1938, could reoccur. The residents in these impacted areas, chose to live near the ocean, and knew that there was always the danger of a massive storm. Incidentally, there are many residents in Breezy Point, who have nothing but contempt for people on welfare. Yet, when the shoe is on the other foot, they want the government to essentially provide welfare for them, pertaining to rebuilding their homes.

Since seagate does not use any services from the except sanitation. they pay for there own police dept. street cleaning, paving there streets, maintain and repair the sewer system, bulkheads, street lights etc.. More then that the seagate police dept that is being paid only by the seagate residents while on there job for seagate they work for the city by giving tickets for alternate side parked cars and all of that money goes for NYC. Please explain what did the city return to seagate for the over $10,000,000.00 in one year that seagate pays in real estate tax plus water and sewer tax to the city. Now multiply this 90 times for the over 90 years since the Jewish community lives there. this is about a billion $1,000,000,000.00. I am sure if the city returns that money plus interest to seagate, the entire community will be able to fix everything without asking any help from the government.

12

 Nov 28, 2012 at 02:21 PM RABIN Says:

To #11-Meyerfreund- The City of New York owes you, and your meshpucha, absolutely nothing! Seagate is part of the 60th Police Precinct, which is part of the New York City Police Dept. The NYCPD receives its funding from the taxpayers, including the 8,000,000 residents of all of NYC. The police force which you were referring to are private security personnel, who are not sworn law enforcement officers. Secondly, the City of New York is authorized to collect real estate taxes on the land, which is occupied by the homes in Sea Gate. The Aviation Unit of the NYCPD, regularly flies over Sea Gate, and patrols the area. The sewage system is part of the sewage system maintained by NYC. In addition, the water is brought in and maintained by NYC. There is no free ride, and hence, NYC is entitled to collect real estate taxes, and water and sewer charges. Stop whining, and stop complaining. The people who were impacted by the Tsunami of 2004, suffered far worse devastation than your community!

13

 Dec 05, 2012 at 10:16 AM zgate Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

Did they talk during davening in sea gate shuls

This is why remaining anonymous is best for fools. Sea Gate is a place of many religions and races. Yes, since the 1800"s this now middle to lower-middle income community has paid the same taxes (city and state) as every New Yorker. Most had flood and other insurance and many have paid into it for more than 60 years. However, what was paid doesn't begin to cover the cost of rebuilding homes that were destroyed. Many of the homes that were lost were owned by non-Jews. Humans! with families, who have worked hard to keep their homes, pay their taxes, and insurance. Everyone who lost was a part of the community. It is sad that only homes that were owned by one faith is mentioned a faith that makes up only 10% of the community. I feel sad for all who have lost.
Did they talk during davening in Sea Gate shuls?......
I can tell you this...according to long time residents the Coney Island Church brought paper towel, soap, food and other needs. They were here for days cooking.Con Edison, NatGrid, The Buddhist Foundation collected money and gave both Sea Gate and Coney Island gift cards to be used to purchase items needed. Respect for life regardless of nationality, religion and ethnicity.

14

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