A local elected official is demanding the state release much-needed funds to repair a waterfront veteran’s post.
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto called a press conference on Wednesday, July 22 to call attention to a delay in $50,000 in state funds through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York to the Corporal Walter J. Fufidio AMVETS Post #38.
At the news conference, surrounded by veterans who need to rebuild their post on 1440 Shore Drive which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, Benedetto said that DASNY drags its heels on the money he allocated to AMVETS Post 38 and other projects funded through DASNY.
“The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York systemically delays virtually all grants assigned to them to disperse,” said Benedetto. “Under the guise of oversight DASNY continually will request more and more paperwork and more and more documentation before the grants begin to get awarded.”
DASNY reported it notified the Assembly Ways and Means Committee on the same day as the press conference that it had concluded its review and the grant will move into the approval stage.
The post is currently a darkened facility lacking utilities, with a scarred staircase leading up from the first floor to the second and a community room with missing ceiling tiles.
They veterans explained that the Category 3 major hurricane had torn through the building’s rear northern wall, washing away into Eastchester Bay all of Post 38’s files and documents as well as the first floor stove, refrigerator, freezer, tables and chairs, while crippling the boiler.
The monster storm also decimated their fence, undermined their patio and caused major structural damage to their seawall.
For safety reasons, the FDNY shut off the gas to the building which was left standing with only three full walls and rendered completely uninhabitable.
The storm’s aftermath quickly depleted Post 38’s savings.
A $25,000 loan was offered to them by a sister veterans post to begin repairs.
Post 38 was able to repair the back wall of their building, install new ground floor windows, reconstruct the fence, establish temporary support for the seawall and have their electric service returned, but not their gas service.
According to Commander Walter Rau he said another $75,000 would be needed for all repairs to be completed and was not asking that the government fund all of the restoration project.
“This is the least that you can do for a veterans organization for veterans who have served their country,” the commander said.
Post 38 contacted their local elected officials and received assurances that a state grant could be obtained to repair the building and rebuild the seawall.
The post completed the qualifying procedures through DASNY using the New York Grants Gateway System, but as of press time no funds have been dispersed and the post has already spent about $40,000 worth of the grant that they would like to ‘draw down’ or be reimbursed for.
Sclafani added, that through the help of Kenneth Kearns, district manager of Community Board 10 and Pat Simone of Hutchinson-Metro Center, an electrician was secured who will work with the post and Con Edison to have power restored as soon as possible.
On Sunday, July 26, Commander Rau completed a full Ironman triathlon in Lake Placid which included a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride followed by a 26.2 mile run to help raise funds to rebuild the post.
Approximately $8,000 was raised through that effort.
Commander Rau and AnnMarie Bovino, AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary president, said they received donations from local business such as Metro Optics Eyewear, Loretta’s Pizza, Louie’s Seafood, S & D Caterers, Crosstown Diner, Louie & Ernie’s Pizza, Alex Beauty Bar and Salon and Modern Fruit, among others, and fellow veterans posts.
John Bonizio, Metro Optics owner and general manager, said both he and founder, Michael Ungaro, a Vietnam veteran who was in the Special Forces, were happy to help the post.
Rau said the post is not eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding because the facility is a non-profit and not a private entity.
If interested in making a donation contact Bovino at (914) 953-7556 or email Commander Rau at nypos