Freeport's Nautical Mile in restoration mode after Sandy

Repair work on Hudson & McCoy Fish House Repair work on Hudson & McCoy Fish House in Freeport, ruined during Sandy, continued Thursday. (April 18, 2013) Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

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Much of Freeport's famed Nautical Mile remains in disrepair because of superstorm Sandy, but village officials say almost all of the business district's restaurants and shops will be reopened by Memorial Day.

Freeport officials and business owners admit restoring the Mile in time for the summer season will take an aggressive last-minute push from the village, merchants, and restaurateurs.

Construction crews and restaurant employees have been working feverishly to rebuild since the Oct. 29 storm, but a little less than half of the district's businesses remain closed.

One business owner, Ilona Jagnow of Otto's Sea Grill, said she is $300,000 into the estimated $500,000 job of restoring her restaurant, which her family has owned for more than 80 years and which suffered 5 feet of water damage.

The restaurant, where Jagnow's grandmother made bathtub gin during Prohibition, will be at least partly open by Memorial Day, she said.

"Something has to be open because I need to be able to pay my crew," Jagnow said.

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The Nautical Mile runs along Woodcleft Canal on Woodcleft Avenue and is a popular tourist destination because of its restaurants, bars and nightlife. It also holds the annual Freeport Nautical Mile Festival, which attracts more than 150,000 people to the area.

Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy said the festival is a go this year and is scheduled for June 1, by which time he expects more than 90 percent of the Mile's 58 businesses to be up and running.