Ocean Beach Village is getting a $50 million revamp.
Officials are in the midst of rebuilding, repairing and adding infrastructure in more than a dozen capital projects in the Fire Island village of 612 houses.
Visitors to the village this summer will be greeted by a new public safety building, water tower and renovated municipal buildings. Construction is underway on a new ferry terminal that will include a jail, meeting room and freight house. A number of upgrades, including new wells and renovated employee apartments, will not be visible to the average resident, officials said.
“The whole town is being redone, and it will last generations,” Village Clerk and Treasurer Steven Brautigam said.
Village officials said they began looking into improvements after superstorm Sandy forced them to consider preparations for future storms.
“We looked closer at the infrastructure,” Mayor James Mallott said. “It was 100 years old. We had to start anew.”
About $25 million worth of projects have been completed in the village since the 2012 storm, including all new walkways and bulkheads, officials said. Funding mainly comes from grants and no-interest loans from agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state Environmental Facilities Corporation, officials said.
Some projects, including beach re-nourishment, are conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers through its Fire Island to Moriches Inlet project, Brautigam said.
Officials are also planning to revamp the sewage treatment plant and sewer collection system for a combined estimated $17 million in an effort to reduce nitrogen leaching into the bay.
While Ocean Beach’s scenic location on the barrier island drives 500,000 people to visit every summer, it presents a major challenge to construction: The added expense of shipping supplies and workers by ferry, officials said. Construction halts in the winter when the ferry does not run because the Great South Bay freezes over and is prohibited between July 3 and Labor Day.
The municipal budget has increased by at least 3 percent every year since Sandy, piercing the state-mandated tax cap, because the village has to pay for a share of the projects and must complete them before getting reimbursed by grants, officials said.
Mallott said that with average property taxes at about $5,000, village homeowners are getting 10 times the value in projects.
Resident Isabelle Gross, 81, said the projects are “necessary,” citing that water quality has improved through new water mains and wells.
“My water was brown for a long time, and it’s regular now,” said Gross, who also lives in Manhattan.
Kathy Lopez, a part-time resident, said she did not recognize Ocean Beach when she came in on the ferry ahead of Memorial Day weekend, citing the new water tower and “massive buildings” downtown.
Lopez, of Holbrook, said that while the area “looks cramped now,” she hopes the projects will mitigate flooding. But she did not mind the construction too much.
“This is my happy place,” she said of the village. “I’m happy.”
Ocean Beach projects
According to Village Clerk/Treasurer Steven Brautigam, projects ready for the summer, include:
- Safe House: A $3.6 million new public safety building with a command center that will house emergency responders when needed, and includes a new well.
- Windswept: A $5 million restored municipal building that is used for a summer camp and meeting space.
- Ferry terminal exterior: Ferries will be able to land at the terminal by around mid-June. The interior, including a jail and freight house, is expected to be completed in October. Estimated $5 million total cost.
- Replacement of sewer collection system: Estimated $12.5 million project expected to be done over next four years.
- Rehabilitation of sewage treatment facility: Estimated $5 million project expected to be completed in two years.