The Town of Huntington will bring together residents and various experts on rebuilding in one-on-one meetings next week to speed efforts to recover from Hurricane Sandy.
Supervisor Frank Petrone said Tuesday that the town will process building permits while private industry and financial groups will be on hand to offer advice on finding and evaluating contractors and obtaining financing.
Hurricane Sandy Recovery Night will be held Nov. 29 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Town Hall.
Council members Mark Mayoka, Mark Cuthbertson and Susan Berland spoke at the press conference, as did representatives of builders groups and banks.
“As residents and businesses begin moving forward to repair the damage Hurricane Sandy caused, the town wants to do all it can to assist them,” Petrone said. “Bringing government and the private sector together at the same time should help ease the process of making residents, businesses and the Town whole again.”
Berland said the night would provide "a great opportunity for one-stop shopping."
The town is partnering with two construction industry associations, the Long Island Builders Institute (LIBI) and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). LIBI and NARI representatives will be on site to offer advice about choosing contractors, assessing competing bids from contractors, and to answer specific questions about the construction process.
“Now that residents and businesses have obtained their damage assessments and received their insurance settlements, they are ready to start the construction process," Cuthbertson said.
"What we don't want to do is slow down the rebuilding process," he said.
Representatives of the Building Department will be available to answer questions and to process permit applications. If all paperwork is in order, the Building Department will issue permits that night.
Gold Coast Bank will offer advice about financing possibilities both for homeowners and businesses.
The town said it is working with the Huntington, Melville and East Northport Chambers of Commerce to promote recovery of businesses affected by the hurricane. In addition, the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency has established a program to grant sales tax relief to small businesses that need to purchase material and equipment to rebuild.
Mitch Pally, CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute, said his organization "looked forward to help homeowners rebuild," and that contractors hired for repair work should be "licensed, insured and local."
After the press conference, Pally was asked about whether Long Island needed to make changes in building practices. "In the past, it was 'build wherever you want'," he said. "Now we have to take Mother Nature into account."