The city Monday broke ground on a massive rehabilitation project to repair and beautify a section of the Rockaways ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

From drab to fab. A 22-block stretch adjacent to the Queens waterfront is about to get a massive makeover nearly three years after it was devastated by Hurricane Sandy upended the community.

"Sandy provided us with a clean slate," said Hank Iori, president of the Belle Harbor Civic Association. "We wanted to make sure the design was a good design so that each block would look like a world-class entry point to the beaches."

Construction crews will use the same design on every block along the waterfront in Belle Harbor and Neponsit, from Beach 127th to Beach 149th streets. There will be extensive repairs to the roads, curbs and sidewalks. Planters and protective barriers will be installed to safeguard and spruce up the neighborhood. Water and sewer mains also will be addressed.

The city held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday, but the actual construction starts in the fall. It's scheduled to be completed by next June.

"We learned from what we've experienced through Sandy so that we'll be sure we have now community and streets and a beachfront that'll be safe and resilient," said Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

The work is part of a $10 million FEMA funded project to address Sandy-related issues in areas like Belle Harbor, Far Rockaway, Broad Channel, Corona and Flushing.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich secured $250,000 in city dollars for the beautification of Belle Harbor.

"It really is something that the community wanted to see as part of this project but that wasn't going to be covered by the FEMA funds. So I'm glad that the city was able to contribute, even at the very last minute, to make this project what it's going to be and to put it over the top," Ulrich said.

Ulrich's efforts were cheered by the crowd, but some residents criticized the city for touting the upcoming work at a news conference. Some say the city is patting itself on the back for work that should have been done already.

Officials say there were some challenges.

"We need to work with the federal government, with the state government, with the local government as well as the community. So a lot of the coordination is one of the major challenges, to ensure that we're coordinated and we're working well with each other and we don't actually intercede in the work progression of anybody," said Feniosky Pena-Mora, commissioner of the NYC Department of Design and Construction.

"What people don't understand is, government moves at a glacial pace, and they don't understand that it takes a while for approval, and design and funding. But this really is a good sign," said Jonathan Gaska, district manager with Community Board 14.

The city says once the work is done, the area will look even better than it did before the storm.