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Jones Beach East Bathhouse draws only 2 reopening plans, state says

The East Bathhouse at Jones Beach, here on

The East Bathhouse at Jones Beach, here on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, which has been shut for eight years, could stay that way for the time being as only two firms sent in proposals to reopen it, officials said. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The East Bathhouse at Jones Beach, shut for eight years, could stay that way for the foreseeable future as only two firms sent in proposals for imaginative ways of reopening it, officials said.

One proposal focused on a sports bar and the other listed a wide range of sports and other activities — but neither committed to paying for the upgrades and neither expressed interest in reopening the Olympic-size pool, which dates to the 1960s.

“The public would find it nice to have a another pool because the West Bathhouse is very crowded, so the East Bathhouse could provide a safety valve,” said Tom Donovan, secretary of the Jones Beach Lifeguard Corps union.

Reopening the East Bathhouse pool also would help make up for the loss of the pool at Heckscher State Park in East Islip, on the Great South Bay, Donovan said. After it fell into disrepair, it was closed in 2011.

Last year, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation issued a request for expressions of interest in the East Bathhouse, a preliminary step. Currently, only the South Building portion of the bathhouse, which offers retail, a food concession, restrooms, a first aid station and a popular terrace, are open during the season.

Groups, from businesses to nonprofits, were asked to devise plans to “provide patrons with a distinct and positively memorable world-class experience that complements Jones Beach.”

One firm that responded, the Perinton Golf and Country Club of upstate Fairport called for an “upscale” sports bar that would feature a “multitude of beers and wines.”

“We feel that this Viewing Terrace would make a great spot for the sports bar, tastefully done in a resort type of a style, so that patrons feel as if they are on vacation,” it said.

A Perinton spokesman was not immediately available to say if it referred to the second floor terrace or one located south of the 1930s bathhouse, the first building Robert Moses constructed at the park.

Perinton requested the terrace’s naming rights to sell “private label retail items” as a promotional tool.

New York City-based Marvel Architects, which submitted the other proposal, said the pool should be removed and turned into “a courtyard that can house all kinds of recreational and seasonal events, from sponsored competitions and festivals, to private parties and events.”

Marvel Architects said it carried out the $43 million reopening of the McCarren Pool in Williamsburg a few years ago, which was closed in 1984, but experts said that kind of lofty expense makes it hard to save the East Bathhouse pool.

The parks department, which already has earmarked $65 million for other renovation projects at Jones Beach, urged applicants to draft self-sustaining projects. Neither Perinton nor Marvel committed to paying for upgrades.

Marvel Architects recommended indoor sports courts, a bazaar, an event space, shade trees, dining, a beer garden, multiuse courts, a shaded terrace, restaurants and food services, a museum, a spray park, an ice rink and a sports bar.

For sports, it proposed everything from table tennis to rock climbing, plus a drone flying field, and a place to rent watercraft. Grilling and barbecue stations also would be added.

A parks department spokesman could not say when it will request formal plans.

“We are in the process of undertaking what is expected to be a long-term internal planning initiative that includes careful consideration of the responses received as we assess capital, concessions and programmatic opportunities that may lead to a future Request for Proposals or other procurement process for a state contract,” he said by email.

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