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Staten Island Business Owners Not Worried by Plans to Level Surrounding Neigborhood

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TWC News: Staten Island Business Owners Not Worried by Plans to Level Surrounding Neigborhood
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Business owners in one Staten Island neighborhood say they'll stay in the area despite plans to return much land nearby back to nature. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.

All over Midland Beach, there are still signs of Hurricane Sandy.

More than a year and a half after the storm destroyed countless homes and shuttered businesses - the waterfront community is slowly recovering.

At this strip mall, there's lots of optimism about the future.

"People should come here and try to open some more. It'd be great to see a pizzeria around here—stuff like that," says Steve Kraja of Midland Bait and Tackle.

The Midland Bait and Tackle relocated here after its first home was decimated in a fire caused by the storm.

The business opened just six months after Sandy, and signed a ten year lease with the mall's owner.

This, despite worries from residents about the safety of the neighborhood in the event of another storm.

"Some people are in shock that I even bothered opening up," Nicky Gjenashaj of Midland Bait and Tackle.

The strip mall is located between two communities that have been offered Governor Cuomo's buyout.

Under that plan, sandy-damaged homes in Graham Beach and Ocean Breeze will be sold to the state for their pre-storm value, minus any insurance money or federal assistance received.

The homes will be leveled and the land will then be returned to nature, forcing some to wonder what's to become of the stores as the communities around them disappear.

"We don't care if they knock them down or not. We're going to stay here. We're going to try to stick it here as long as we could, til they actually throw us out," Gjenashaj says.

The governor's office of storm recovery says commercial businesses will not be offered the buyout...but neither will they be asked to leave when the area is returned to nature.

That's good news for these store owners, who say the shops' prime location just across the street from the beach make them the perfect place to build their business into the future.

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