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State parks officials unveil five renovated Jones Beach mosaics

Restored mosaics are unveiled at the center mall

Restored mosaics are unveiled at the center mall at Jones Beach on Moniday Sept. 28, 2015 in Wantagh. Credit: Newsday / Howard Schnapp

State parks officials Monday unveiled five rehabilitated mosaics in the Jones Beach Central Mall walkway, the latest effort to restore some of the original luster to one of Robert Moses' masterpieces.

The $177,000 project came about through a partnership between the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the nonprofit Foundation for Long Island State Parks. The agency has been working to counter deterioration and historically inaccurate repairs since a critical 2004 report about the condition of the region's flagship park by the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities.

"The crumbling and disintegration of the historic mosaics at the gateway to Jones Beach was a symbol of the neglect of our state park system," Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. "The mosaics are part of an intricate level of detail and ornamentation that make Jones Beach such a unique and beloved park."

The mosaics were constructed from slate and tinted concrete with brass details. The largest is a 12- by 32-foot map of Long Island featuring its state parks created by Moses, the legendary state parks chief starting in the 1920's. The others feature a pair of sea horses, a lobster, and two anchors in keeping with the nautical theme of the park where employees originally dressed in sailor uniforms and trash receptacles mimicked ships' funnels.

Weather, foot traffic and lack of maintenance caused the mosaics to break and crumble. They were restored by two New York State contractors, Jablonski Building Conservation and Graniteworks. They removed and labeled each slate and brass piece, repaired the concrete foundation and reset the pieces."The restored mosaics are literally the centerpiece for a revitalized and rebuilding Jones Beach," said Bryan Erwin, chairman of the advisory Long Island State Parks Commission and also head of the foundation. "While they remind us of the grandeur of Jones Beach when it opened . . . the restoration was accomplished in a modern way -- with the engagement of private donors through the Foundation for Long Island State Parks coupled with an investment from Governor [Andrew M.] Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 program. We are thrilled at the outcome."

Harvey credited the foundation and Cuomo, who has made a commitment to reversing decades of neglect, especially at heavily visited flagship parks.

Last year, Cuomo announced a Jones Beach restoration plan to expand recreational opportunities, restore the historic ambiance of the park, strengthen it against storms and ease entry to boost visitation and help the economy. The governor's NY Parks 2020 seeks to provide private and public funding to invest approximately $900 million in state parks from 2011 to 2020.Cuomo said in 2014 that the state will spend $65 million to restore Jones Beach, the largest rehabilitation effort ever at a Long Island park.

Preservation society director Alexandra Wolfe said it "is happy to see this symbolic restoration project reach completion . . . Today, its restoration hopefully represents a new direction for maintaining the park as one that includes historic preservation as an important guiding principle."

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