Fire Island restoration plan nearing completion

This photo, looking north, shows the new breach This photo, looking north, shows the new breach on Fire Island caused by superstorm Sandy on March 9, 2013. Photo Credit: Doug Kuntz

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Fire Island community leaders and government officials met Saturday and moved closer to finalizing the barrier island's restoration plan as its deadline approaches.

The Fire Island Planning Committee, composed of about 30 community stakeholders, discussed how to use the $3 million granted to the island with 17 communities. The federal storm-reconstruction funds are distributed by the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program.

"Money decisions will be made based on public input," said committee co-chairwoman Suzy Goldhirsch of Seaview at the two-hour meeting at First Presbyterian Church in Babylon. She also is president of the Fire Island Association, which represents property owners.

The draft conceptual plan with recommendations for rebuilding Sandy-damaged Fire Island was unveiled last month. The committee must complete an Islandwide community plan and submit it to the state for approval by March 31.

About $4 million worth of priority projects should be submitted in case any of the recommendations are rejected. The committee also will create another list of projects that could be funded through alternative grants obtained with the help of a recovery manager, officials said.

The committee also will work on developing a list of community assets that would have the greatest impact if they were damaged or gone, officials said.

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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 Robert Moses Causeway through the Fire Island National Seashore for roughly $500,000. Another recommendation is installing backup generators for about $500,000 at critical facilities, such as government buildings, fire stations and water and sewage facilities.

The next Fire Island public engagement event will be Feb. 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Church of All Souls, 1157 Lexington Ave. in Manhattan.

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