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Ocean Beach bayfront grant can't be found

Some missing state grant money has triggered a yearlong moratorium on construction in Ocean Beach's bayfront recreation district -- which could push back groundbreaking on the village's proposed ferry terminal project.

The village board voted on Saturday to pass the moratorium, which Mayor James Mallott said resulted from a recent visit from state officials about a grant award that village officials cannot seem to find.

"In 1980, the village got a $90,000 grant from the state to form a bayfront recreation district," Mallott said, explaining that the "bayfront" includes the bay area from the tennis courts, wagon park and ferry terminal to the Windswept property.

Mallott said several weeks ago the village was asked about the status of the grant.

"We looked but couldn't find the grant we'd received," Mallott said. "So rather than do something in the next few months to jeopardize us so we have to give that $90,000 back, we decided to vote on a moratorium on building on that bayfront district."

Mallott said the moratorium will last a year unless rescinded by the board before then. He added the village doesn't know if or how the grant money was spent and hasn't been able to find the grant.

Meanwhile, Mallott and village clerk-treasurer Stephen Brautigam have been working with the state Department of Transportation on plans for a new ferry terminal, but Brautigam said progress has been slow. At one point, the goal was to break ground this fall, but that timeline has been pushed back and will be subject to the construction moratorium.

Representatives from the Long Island Power Authority also visited the Fire Island village Saturday and gave an hourlong presentation to more than 75 residents about fire hazards, as requested by the mayor after a spate of destructive house fires last year and several power outages this season.

Mallott acknowledged at the last board meeting that LIPA was not at fault for the fires.

LIPA representative George Ello encouraged homeowners to keep their houses up to code, trim trees near power lines and have power disconnected from houses that aren't occupied in winter.

Trustee Matthew Blake, liaison to the Ocean Beach Volunteer Fire Company, said June yielded 35 calls for their total service area -- more than twice as many as May -- about 30 percent of which were fire-related.

"That's a significant month for us," Blake said.

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