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Ocean Beach urges patience during recovery

The Ocean Beach Ferry Terminal, a main hub

The Ocean Beach Ferry Terminal, a main hub for commuters to and from Fire Island, sustained major damage during superstorm Sandy. (Jan. 5, 2013). Credit: Daniel Finkelstein

Ocean Beach's mayor, saddled with a host of post-Sandy recovery issues, has been granted a major pay hike.

James S. Mallott's annual stipend was boosted from $1,500 to $36,500 Saturday by the Fire Island village's board.

Before Sandy struck, Mallott, who owns the Albatross bar and restaurant, devoted about 30 hours a week to his mayoral duties. But in rushing to get the storm-ravaged village back in order before the summer tourist season, he said he's been working much longer hours.

"My life has changed so much in the past two months that this is just a full-time job," Mallott said. "My day consists of working for the village, it really does. I think we need a little recognition."

The board voted 4-1 to approve the pay increase.

Trustee Matthew Blake said his "no" vote was based on "philosophical" grounds and not a reflection of what he called "a job that is beyond well done."

Ocean Beach officials, meanwhile, cautioned Saturday that major repairs will continue through summer -- and both business owners and visitors will have to exercise patience.

"We're under tremendous financial constraint with all these buildings that need all this work," Mallott said.

Most of the village's properties were damaged in the superstorm and some were destroyed, including its police department and ferry terminal.

The board voted to pay about $10,000 to remove asbestos from the terminal building before having it demolished. Clerk-Treasurer Steve Brautigam said the demolition cost won't be known until bids are in.

The aging terminal had been slated for replacement before Sandy. When Ocean Beach signed a new 10-year contract with Fire Island Ferries last year, upping the ferry company's rent to the village by 89 percent, the village agreed to replace the terminal.

Harvey Levine, who owns an Ocean Beach bed-and-breakfast inn, told the board that he worries that having the village be a work in progress this summer might deter tourists.

"There will be some patience required of all of us in the next year," board member Gregory Pace said.

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