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Lease deal to allow Fire Island ferry to resume service

Stephanie Sherman and brother-in-law Matthew Sherman, owners of

Stephanie Sherman and brother-in-law Matthew Sherman, owners of the Davis Park Ferry company, at the Patchogue terminal dock in January. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

The Davis Park Ferry plans to launch its spring schedule this weekend after tentatively agreeing to a new five-year lease to use Brookhaven Town-owned marinas in Patchogue and the Fire Island summer community, officials said.

The ferry company, which has plied the Great South Bay for more than 70 years, had faced an uncertain future when its lease to use the Davis Park marina and Sandspit marina in Patchogue expired on Dec. 31. Brookhaven had sought bids on a new lease, in hopes of making more revenue, officials said.

Brookhaven Councilman Neil Foley said the town and company officials reached agreement earlier this week on a deal that includes a rent increase, which he did not disclose. The town board voted 6-0 on Thursday to approve the lease.

"The most important thing for the town was that there was service for the Davis Park residents and the day-trippers," Foley said. "There’s a certain level of service that we expect … and the taxpayers deserve to have a first-class service."

Foley said the lease includes an option that would allow the town to extend the deal for an additional five years.

The Sherman family, which has owned the company since its founding in 1947, and their attorney, Norman R. Cerullo of Uniondale, said they hoped to finalize the agreement with town officials by Friday. They said they plan to resume ferry service Saturday morning and did not expect any disruptions in service.

"Hopefully this all gets resolved in time," company owner Stephanie Sherman said.

The resumption of ferry service will come as welcome news for Davis Park's approximately 250 homeowners, said Jayne S. Robinson, president of the Davis Park Association, a civic group that represents residents.

Many residents had become anxious as March arrived without an agreement between the town and ferry company, she said.

"Our whole community is happy" that a deal was reached, she said. "People have been wondering when our ferry service was going to start. Our town has always assured us that ferry service will start on time. … We’re very happy that our friends the Shermans will continue to provide ferry service."

Though Memorial Day — Long Island's unofficial start of summer — still is more than two months away, many Fire Islanders like to get a head start in March by visiting the island and making sure their homes survived a brutal winter, Robinson said.

Residents also are excited to return after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled many of their usual summer activities last year, Robinson said.

"People are getting their houses ready. Contractors are coming over," she said. "Especially after the pandemic, people are interested in having another place to go. Everybody is anxious to look at their houses and make sure everything is ready to go."

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