Fire Island recovery plan gets generally positive reviews
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Fire Island residents provided generally positive feedback Saturday to recommendations for rebuilding Fire Island from the ravages of superstorm Sandy.
The draft conceptual plan was unveiled by the Fire Island Planning Committee at First Presbyterian Church in Babylon. The meeting drew about 40 people.
The barrier island has been granted $3 million in federal storm-reconstruction funding from the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program.
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Potential projects include a $1.5 million bayside buffer, with improved shoreline protection through bulkheads and dunes.
There are also plans to stabilize the emergency-access route linked to the Robert Moses Causeway through the Fire Island National Seashore. That project would cost roughly $500,000.
"Normally you can only get to Fire Island by ferry," said committee co-chairwoman Suzy Goldhirsch of Seaview, also president of the Fire Island Association representing property owners.
"It is a dirty road that is the emergency access route. If that gets washed over and flooded, there is no way to get emergency-access vehicles onto the island from over the mainland," she said.
Other recommendations are adding a $200,000 emergency communication satellite system that would not be affected by floods or power outages, and installing backup generators for about $500,000 at critical facilities, such as government buildings, fire stations and water and sewage facilities.
"Emergency responders need to get between the communities, and on and off the beach," said Martha Mason, 63, of Seaview, who supports the plan.
Eddie Greenfield, 68, also of Seaview, said federal, state and local agencies should come up with a joint strategy to set a standard that would do away with the varying heights of bulkheads on the Great South Bay side of the island.
"We think that creates a hazardous condition," said Greenfield, a retired New York City planner. "Fire Island is in a more vulnerable position than the South Shore of Long Island."
The planning committee, composed of about 30 community leaders, experts, and government officials, must complete a community plan and submit it to the state for approval by March 31.
"The committee's job is to look at all of our needs and come up with Islandwide projects, because we're 17 communities, and we're a very long stretch," Goldhirsch said. "It has to be projects that benefit everybody."