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Long Island

Most LI beaches ready for swimming season

Christina Marks, 11, of Rockville Centre, perfects her

Christina Marks, 11, of Rockville Centre, perfects her cartwheel on a beautiful day by the shore in Long Beach. (May 18, 2012) Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Most of Long Island's state and county beaches are in good shape as the swimming season kicks off with what is expected to be a hot Memorial Day weekend.

But beachgoers who like to go to Field 5 at Robert Moses State Park should plan on getting there early this summer. Winter surf claimed much of the sand, prompting officials to close half of the parking lot to prevent overcrowding.

Visitors to state and county parks will see some new and overhauled facilities. These include a new Wildwood State Park bathhouse in Wading River, and a new playground at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, billed as the first Island playground fully equipped for children with disabilities.

At Field 5 at Robert Moses, "the majority of the beach is submerged at high tide," said Ronald Foley, regional director of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

So, he said, the western half of the parking lot will probably be fenced off "so we don't allow more people to park there than we can accommodate on the beach because the beach is so narrow," he said.

Field 5 has been the site of some of the worst beach erosion on the Island over the past few years, at times requiring partial closure of the parking lot. The difference this year, Foley said, is that the state has used up a stockpile of sand from a dredging project, so there is no way to replenish the beach in time for summer.

There is also an erosion problem at Field 4, and Foley said parking might have to be limited there as well, but it's too early to tell. "We're in pretty good shape in most other places," he said.

Wildwood's $1.2 million bathhouse is expected to be completed by July 4, replacing a facility dating to the late 1970s that was damaged by storms and exposure to the elements.

At Heckscher State Park in East Islip, the boat channel has been dredged this year, but the pool complex and campground remain closed for the second summer. The pool has severely deteriorated while the campground was closed because of the presence of West Nile virus, and staffing issues.

The state has also dredged the channel into the marina at the Nissequogue River park in Kings Park. A Captree fishing pier destroyed last year by Tropical Storm Irene will be rebuilt by mid-June, Foley said.

For the third year, there will be no July Fourth fireworks at Jones Beach because the state has not held a park police academy class to train officers to replace those who have left.

"We're severely diminished in police forces," Foley said.

Here are updates for other Nassau and Suffolk parks:

The "Let All the Children Play" playground for children with disabilities opened May 4 at Field 4 in Eisenhower Park.

The Tackapausha Museum and Preserve in Seaford reopened last month after a renovation.

Stannards Brook County Park in Port Washington has reopened after a two-year overhaul that included modifications to the stream and culvert system to alleviate flooding, and new landscaping and benches.

Grant Park in Hewlett will open in early June with three new turf baseball/softball fields, a turf batting cage and a new comfort station.

Cedar Creek in Seaford will be open in mid-June with two new turf fields. Cabanas were recently painted at Nickerson Beach in Lido.

At Smith Point County Park in Shirley, electrical service at campsites has been expanded and upgraded.

Southaven County Park in Brookhaven hamlet has upgraded bathroom facilities in the camping area.

Meschutt Beach County Park in Hampton Bays had drainage upgrades made to the parking lot.

Water is being installed at each campsite at Cedar Point County Park in East Hampton.

Parking fees have increased at Suffolk parks.

Those with lifeguards -- Smith Point, Cupsogue and Meschutt -- will cost $8 with a Suffolk County Parks Green Key card, up from $5; and $15 without the card, a $3 increase. Parks without lifeguards will double to $6 with a Green Key card, and increase by $3 to $13 without.

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