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Marina at Sailors Haven on Fire Island to be closed to private boaters through July 20

Visitors get off the the ferry from Sayville

Visitors get off the the ferry from Sayville at the Sailors Haven Marina and the Sunken Forest on July 6, 2013. Credit: Linda Rosier

The marina at Sailors Haven on Fire Island will be closed to private boaters and shoreline access limited through July 20 because of a $1 million construction project to update and repair the facility, which was heavily damaged by superstorm Sandy.

Restrooms and the visitors center will remain open and daily ferry service will still operate, although there may be disruptions due to construction, said Elizabeth Rogers, a park ranger for Fire Island National Seashore.

"We want to provide safe access," she said. "Safety is our No. 1 concern."

Nearby Sunken Forest will be open to visitors, and people can walk into the popular beach area from Cherry Grove and Point O'Woods.

The marina has 42 slips, and during the high season as many as 250 boats anchor offshore but use the marina to offload supplies and people.

Due to safety concerns, bayside shoreline access will be limited and the seashore is encouraging boaters to anchor at Talisman/Barrett Beach or Watch Hill, Rogers said.

Ken Stein, president of Sayville Ferry Service and Fire Island Concessions, said the disruption will be tough on his businesses and boaters who come out to the site.

"We're talking more than half the season," Stein said. "For the next 20 years afterward we're going to have a very beautiful facility, unfortunately at the sacrifice of the 2015 season."

Fire Island Concessions runs a gift shop and snack bar at Sailors Haven and getting staff and supplies from the mainland could be difficult, he said.

"I can imagine that there are going to be some very upset customers," Stein said. "They have a strong loyalty and love for the place."

On an average season, Sayville Ferry Service takes about 50,000 people out to Sailors Haven and nearby Sunken Forest.

The concessions are a big draw for boaters to pick up ice and other supplies and day trippers to grab some food, said Merrick resident Tom Murphy, who typically spends time at Sailors Haven in August.

"For the most part it's pretty much all families," he said. "It's convenient because it's not too far out. It's kind of centrally located."

Construction began March 30 using Sandy recovery funds from the Federal Highway Administration. Work entails strengthening the substructure and installing new electrical service and pedestals for boats to hook up to, Rogers said.

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