Staten Island homeowners demand answers, say government agency is digging up land near homes

Nina Pineda Image
Wednesday, April 5, 2023
Staten Island homeowners angered by government agency NY Rising
Nina Pineda and 7 On Your Side stepped in to help the angry Staten Island homeowners.

OAKWOOD BEACH, Staten Island (WABC) -- Outraged homeowners on Staten Island feel they're being harassed by a government agency which was created in part to help victims of Superstorm Sandy recover and rebuild.

They claim NY Rising is coming after them 11 years after the storm for encroaching on what is now state land. They called Nina Pineda and got 7 On Your Side to help get answers and results.

A crew came out, dug up a walkway, busted up and broke her handrail, leaving widow Connie Martinez, who can barely walk, with a dangerous mess.

She found out it was NY Rising, the recovery initiative established by the state in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

The government agency said three inches of Connie's concrete was actually on their property since it bought her neighbor's lot after the Superstorm Sandy surge swallowed Staten Island.

NY Rising purchased 504 homes for $200 million .

A handful of homeowners who didn't take the buyout all got certified letters from Gov. Kathy Hochul this year to remove part of their pathways and sidewalks -- or else they would send someone out and give them the bill.

Bobby & Bridget Rosita's beef is over a path that is a foot and a half wide.

Down the street, two neighbors got letters to remove sidewalk-- just the part of the concrete that juts out and the black top alongside another house.

"They're gonna break this up, take this and make me pay for it," Chris Camuso said.

"I don't think it's fair they sent me a letter they're gonna remove it and charge me," Alex Dionne said.

What doesn't make any sense to homeowners is why NY Rising would come back now to dig up walkways that had been there for decades right next to their properties.

Yet just a block away where there is nobody next door, they have left a driveway to nowhere untouched.

NY Rising says the lots are supposed to "revert to nature" which is required by HUD, which funded the buyout program to reduce flood risks and adapt to climate change.

They added their team has spoken multiple times with the five homeowners who received letters that there is a major encroachment on their neighboring property.

After Connie Martinez showed us the way her railing and walkway was left, 7 On Your Side notified NY Rising.

The handrail was repaired and the debris was removed with a promise to fill the deep drop-off and a promise to continue to speak directly with the families.

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