By Jon Weinstein
Another major step in Brooklyn's recovery from Hurricane Sandy comes on Monday, when the Canarsie Pier will reopen for the first time in almost seven months to local fishermen and community members wanting to spend time by the sea. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
The damage from Hurricane Sandy is still evident around Canarsie Pier, but for the most part, the pier is now fixed, cleaned and certified as safe. The Brooklyn community landmark is scheduled to reopen Monday for the first time since the storm.
That's a huge step forward for fishermen in Canarsie like Frank Bologna, who's used this spot his entire life.
"It's my home, 48 years coming here. If we're not fishing, we're playing dominoes, or people are coming here just to socialize," Bologna said.
To get the pier ready, divers came and inspected it to make sure it was structurally safe.
Sandy also washed away benches and other items around the pier, which is part of Gateway National Recreation Area. Park ranger Jose Ramirez said dozens of volunteers helped clean the area, and now it will be a huge boost to have the pier back open.
"On a Saturday or Sunday we get at least 1,000 to 2,000 people here fishing," Ramirez said.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said the federal money to make the repairs came from the federal Sandy aid bill. In total, the Parks Department set aside nearly $3 million specifically for Canarsie Pier.
"We know that a knockdown is very different from a knockout. We're beginning to get back up on our feet, and the reopening of Canarsie Pier is a substantial step in that direction," Jeffries said.
The pier's parking lot, playgrounds and sitting areas are all now ready to use.
"It's like a second home away from home. You come out here, there's kids running around and people barbecuing," said Jeffrey Wilson of Canarsie.
Fisherman who were stuck fishing from the shore will be able to go back to their favorite spots out on the pier.
"It's deeper on that side of the pier, much deeper, more fish," said fisherman Hector Santana.
With the pier now set to be open for the busy summer season, all that's left is for the weather to cooperate.