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Rebuild or Retreat? NY Pols Take Sides in Post-Sandy Debate

New York Gov. Cuomo has proposed a $400 million buyout and relocation program, while Sen. Charles Schumer has joined the growing chorus calling for rebuilding to a higher standard in storm-damaged areas. Will their recovery efforts collide?
February 21, 2013, 10am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Matt Chaban reports on the growing debate over whether to retreat from New York's vulnerable coastal areas or rebuild smarter in place. This week, Senator Charles Schumer waded into the debate, joining Mayor Bloomberg in advocating for the latter option. "'I think there are very few people, except for a few small communities on Staten Island, that want to [leave],' Mr. Schumer told reporters after giving a speech to the Association for a Better New York and the Downtown Alliance. 'I would much rather see us rebuild in a way that protects us than abandon large parts of New York.'"

"Political leaders have been weighing their options to retreat or rebuild since the storm hit," writes Chaban. "Governor Andrew Cuomo has so far been the loudest proponent of relocating vulnerable communities while Mayor Michael Bloomberg has urged rebuilding them, albeit in a stronger, more resilient fashion."

Earlier this month, Gov. Cuomo announced plans for a $400 million buyout program to purchase homes in vulnerable areas and demolish them. "Mr. Bloomberg was asked about the governor's buyout program at an announcement of his plans for the first piece of Sandy aid earlier this month, and he responded emphatically."

"If the governor has a program to buyout, and people want to take advantage of that, that's great, but our responsibility is trying to get people back into their houses right now," the mayor said. "That's what most people want to do, we believe, and we've talked to a lot of people since Sandy."

"The mayor also said in his State of the City that rebuilding 'a more resilient and sustainable city' was 'the single most important piece of unfinished business that lies ahead of us in 2013,'" adds Chaban.

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Published on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 in Crain's New York Business
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