Davis Park raring to go for summer
After a late-October storm wrecked the Davis Park marina, Brookhaven Town officials say it will reopen this month. “We are prepared and ready,” said Brookhaven Town councilman Neil Foley, hinting at a Memorial Day opening.
Tropical Storm Philippe barreled through Suffolk County last October, dumping between three and five inches of rain within 24 hours and bringing gusting winds of up to 70 mph over rough seas. The storm leveled the Fire Island marina, lifting virtually all 2,075 feet of fixed dock from its pilings.
As he surveyed the damage the next day, Matt Miner, Brookhaven Town chief of operations, estimated millions of dollars in damage. “This was worse than Sandy and Irene and, in my opinion, was worse than the two combined,” he told the Advance at the time.
Foley said town officials immediately got to work securing DEC permits and drafting plans for the project, which is nearing completion this week. “The plan was implemented right away. It hasn’t been easy — this was a storm that was very costly,” he said, estimating that 90 percent of the work was completed in-house by the town’s parks department.
Crews worked through an unpredictable winter to complete the approximately $3 million in repairs, said parks commissioner Ed Morris.
Morris said that all docks have been rebuilt with new decking and the center dock has been replaced with a new floating dock. The ferry dock is still undergoing construction, but he expects to see it wrap up “any day now.”
The Davis Park Ferry Co. has been using an alternate location during the renovations. Co-owner Matt Sherman said he’s anxious to see the final project. “I’m very impressed,” he said of what’s been completed thus far. “It’s moving along nicely.”
In addition to new decking, crews also installed new lighting, plumbing and electric. The tower dock and dockmaster station will likely be completed post-Memorial Day, he said. “Our priority was the ferry dock, since everyone — homeowners and beachgoers — will be coming over to use the facility,” Morris said.
Work began in late December, town officials said, but soon reached a stalemate. “January comes and the bay freezes,” Foley said. “That’s not easy. [Fire Island] is difficult logistically.”
Morris said that though crews couldn’t get across to Fire Island, they worked on the mainland indoors to construct floating docks that were then ferried across. “All those nor’easters didn’t help, but we’re still on schedule,” Morris said.
Sherman says the storm was both unexpected and devastating, a less than ideal combination. “It caused a lot of trouble all over,” he recalled.
Foley noted that the new dock has been reinforced with brackets, which will strengthen the structure in future storms. “It looks like it’s going to last forever,” Sherman said of the new structure.
But anyone on the South Shore knows that’s not the case. Last fall’s storm reiterated the need for additional protection, Foley said. “Davis Park has no natural protection,” he said, adding that the DEC will allow a study to eventually move a jetty project forward. “A sea wall would give us some protection and help us to avoid rebuilding Davis Park every four or five years,” he said.
Sherman says a jetty is “absolutely necessary” for wind protection. He said damage is worse when strong winds come from the northwest. “Years ago there was a jetty that went out on both sides,” he said. “But that’s since washed away and left the marina very vulnerable.”
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