New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday that he plans to retool the city’s recovery efforts, appointing a superstorm Sandy “czar” and promising to significantly increase the pace of distributing assistance.
Mr. de Blasio appointed Bill Goldstein to serve as senior adviser to the mayor for recovery, resiliency and infrastructure, and Amy Peterson to oversee housing recovery. He said he will boost staffing in the office that administers the city’s Build it Back program by 35%, to more than 100 people.
Mr. Goldstein worked as executive vice president at MTA Capital Construction, where he helped oversee the implementation of the agency’s large new projects including the Fulton Street Transit Center. Ms. Peterson has worked at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Construction and helped with the jobs recovery in Lower Manhattan after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
The changes come more than a year after the storm damaged thousands of homes in the region in late October 2012 and Congress approved a roughly $60 billion aid package to help the region’s long-term recovery. Since then the city’s primary rebuilding program, Build it Back, has proven ineffective at distributing that aid.
Mr. de Blasio said repair construction has started on homes being funded by the program and reimbursement checks were sent out in recent days.
The mayor plans to release additional recommendations for recovery in the coming weeks.
Advocates have pressed the administration to focus more on superstorm Sandy recovery, an issue that didn’t top Mr. de Blasio’s campaign agenda.
He signaled that it will be a focus for his administration.
“When there’s red tape to cut through I will cut through it,” Mr. de Blasio said. “This is going to be a central area of focus for me and my administration.”
He was greeted warmly by a crowd at a library in Rockaway Park, Queens, where he made the announcement along with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito.
“City Hall’s new Sandy-focused leadership and plans for accelerating the Build it Back program are major steps forward,” said Nathalie Alegre, coordinator of the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding, a broad coalition of community groups and advocates.
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