Amityville beach plan to be presented in February

Michelle Ryan, right, and members of a residents'

Michelle Ryan, right, and members of a residents' beach committee from left to right, Trustee Nick Lalota, Trustee Dennis Siry, Frank Santos, Gerry Compitello, and Jerry O'Neil, are shown at the south end of South Bayview Avenue beach in Amityville. The group will present a beach revitalization plan at a village board meeting. (Jan. 18, 2014) (Credit: Steve Pfost)

Amityville's municipal beach could be revitalized with the addition of a sprinkler run, shaded seating area, and boccie and shuffleboard courts under a plan to reverse years of low attendance.

Members of a residents beach committee, who will present the plan at the Feb. 10 village board meeting, said the amenities would spark renewed interest in the 300-foot-wide, 1.5-acre site, which abuts the ballfields and pavilions of James Caples Memorial Park at the south end of South Bayview Avenue.

The redevelopment cost will be covered by the roughly $300,000 remainder of a $500,000 grant secured by then Republican state Sen. Owen Johnson, whose district included the site, for beach revitalization in 2008. The village has used $200,000 of that to repair bulkheading and a boat ramp near the beach. If the village board approves the plan, work could be finished for the beach's June opening, officials said.

"This beach is a gem, and we are going to make that gem shine again," said trustee Nick LaLota.

Some residents who live near the municipal beach say any new programs that bring in more beachgoers could worsen traffic in the neighborhood, already a problem on summer weekends. Others say the grant money should be spent on fixing existing facilities at the beach and park.

Supporters, however, said the plan would make the beach -- established about 1940 -- a more popular destination.

"This could be the one place in town where people get together -- kids can be having a soccer game on the grass or be on the handball courts while their parents are sitting in the shade listening to music," said Michelle Ryan, an occupational therapist who is chairwoman of the beach committee. "This is going to bring everyone together."

Generations of Amityville children learned swimming, sailing and archery at the beach, provided by the village for free or at low cost, said beach manager Jerry Pollock, a retired teacher who began working summers there in 1964.

Later projects could include fixing a concession stand that was badly damaged by superstorm Sandy and staging small evening concerts, LaLota said.

Corinne Amico, who lives near the beach, said it could use a "good hug." She said she hoped work would not end with the new amenities, and said she envisioned water aerobics and yoga on the beach.

Not all her neighbors agree. In the Timber Ridge condominiums, just northeast of the beach, Jacqueline Gobindram, who manufactures beanbags and novelty products, said she opposed any project that might bring more traffic to the area.

On busy summer weekends, she said, traffic backs up because of ball games and visitors to the Dinghy Shop, a sailing and outdoor store at the end of the other spur of South Bayview Ave.

"It's miserable," she said. "I understand people need their recreation, but we pay good taxes."

Her neighbor Kevin Mills said he thought the money would be better spent on repairing existing facilities in the community.

"Do I think we should compete with Tanner Park?" he asked, referring to a nearby Babylon Town park. "Definitely not. We're a small village."

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