A duck-hunting club that lost its clubhouse in Bellport Bay to a storm four years ago is fighting Brookhaven Town officials over plans to rebuild.
The Pattersquash Gunners Association wants to erect a 20-foot-by-21-foot building on Quanch Island, one of the dozens of tiny islands that dot Bellport and Great South bays.
The clubhouse would replace a previous building, which club members called “the shack,” on nearby Pelican Island that was wiped out when the island was washed away by a February 2013 storm.
Brookhaven officials have rejected the plan, saying the building would displace wildlife on Quanch Island, and also block other residents from using the island.
Members of the club, which dates its history to 1922, said they need the new clubhouse for storage and as a meeting place during “gunning season,” which typically runs from late November to late January.
“This was the only shack of this type in Suffolk County, so we very much would like to put it back,” said Pattersquash president Frank Miller, 58, of Brookhaven hamlet.
“Without the shack, we have no place to meet, no place to go in and out with the weather,” said club member Dick Richardson, 81, of Patchogue. “That was our main place to meet.”
The club’s plans were denied by the town’s Division of Environmental Protection, which said the clubhouse could cause a loss of wetlands on the island. Pattersquash members have appealed that decision to the town board.
At an April 10 town board public hearing on the matter, opponents of the plan said the structure is unnecessary.
“It’s something that never should have been granted,” Doug Swesty, a duck hunter from Setauket, said, referring to the original shack. “We don’t need a clubhouse out there in order to hunt ducks.”
Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, said the building could harm wildlife.
“We know a lot more about wetlands than we did 40 years ago, and they are very much in danger,” he said.
The Pattersquash plan drew the support of Councilman Michael Loguercio, who said the hunters should be allowed to continue a treasured way of life.
“This is not about a shack,” he said. “It’s history. It’s about a tradition.”
Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said the town board would decide the matter at a future meeting.
Miller said the club has secured permission for the clubhouse from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the federal Fire Island National Seashore. He said the club lacks only permits from the town.
The gunners association president also said the new clubhouse would be smaller than the old one, to reduce its impact on the environment. Construction, which would be paid for by club members, would cost $40,000 to $50,000, he said.
“It will look exactly as the previous version of the shack that we lost, but it is about 30 percent smaller than the previous shack,” Miller said. “It’s a very typical, New England-y type structure. It looks like it belongs there.”
Pattersquash Gunners Association
1922: Club founded
1938: Original clubhouse destroyed by hurricane
1980s: Rebuilt clubhouse damaged by fire
2013: Clubhouse swept away by winter storm
Current members: 60