Sign on Ocean Parkway stating Gilgo State Park is closed.

Sign on Ocean Parkway stating Gilgo State Park is closed. Credit: James Carbone

Gilgo State Park, one of Long Island’s most popular spots for off-road vehicles, is once again closed after Tropical Storm Henri narrowed at least three sections of the beach, a park official said Tuesday.

"We’re waiting several days, waiting on the tide cycles, to see if we can reopen," said George Gorman, Long Island regional director, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, referring to the high water level up by the beach dunes from Henri's churning over the weekend.

"If it doesn’t recede any further, then we are going to have to keep it closed," he said.

While a vehicle can get through the narrowed sections of shore, once parked, no one else could get by, Gorman added.

Located on a South Shore barrier island in Babylon just off Ocean Parkway, the park, beloved by surfers and anglers, is periodically replenished with sand.

Its dunes help shield Ocean Parkway, a major thoroughfare for beachgoers and commuters, from nor'easters though Superstorm Sandy in 2012 sliced the island in two at that location.

Rebuilding those dunes and reopening the road after Sandy cost $33 million — and took months.

And then nor’easters over the next two years washed away much of that sand.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which awards dredging and sand replenishment projects, was not immediately available to say when the next one may occur; nor was the National Park Service, which runs the Fire Island National Seashore, or the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

For Gilgo, sand usually is dredged from the Fire Island Inlet, where it tends to collect, impeding navigation.

Coastal geologists say erosion is a recurring problem at Gilgo, partly accelerated by the riprap or rocky material, bulkhead and other remnants of the long-abandoned U.S. Coast Guard Station.

In March, 5,000 cubic yards of sand were poured at Gilgo from an emergency stockpile at Robert Moses State Park, which lies about 10 miles east, after a couple of winter nor’easters exposed the foundations of the 1920s Coast Guard station.

In April 2019, Gilgo reopened after a three-year shutdown, again due to erosion, which again had spurred a $26 million sand replenishment.

Urgent repairs were approved the previous spring, after the DEC said it found just 36 feet divided the Atlantic from Ocean Parkway, heightening the risk a storm would cleave the island in two, officials have said.

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