Aides to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said Wednesday they have suspended plans for a new $3 million pavilion at the oceanfront Cupsogue Beach and will leave temporary fixes in place indefinitely.
“I’d say it’s on hold,” said Public Works Commissioner Gil Anderson. He said “the public has had a positive reaction” to the work that already has been done to keep the beach operational after a fire destroyed Cupsogue’s 40-year-old beach pavilion September, 2014.
The delay came to light at the county legislature’s parks committee meeting. Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) criticized the delay, saying the temporary fixes are inadequate to showcase one of the county’s “most spectacular views of both the ocean and the bay.”
The county legislature has authorized $750,000 for temporary repairs including a new deck area for the food concession run by an outside firm, Beach Hut; modular bathroom units; septic facilities and a trailer for lifeguards and other county personnel.
Anderson said the county needs to do additional work to make the facilities comply with Americans with Disabilities Act, enlarge the women’s bathroom and changing areas and provide extra storage for parks supplies and employees.
But he said the county will not go forward with design work on a full scale replacement.
Bellone spokeswoman Vanessa Baird Streeter said the decision was made at the start of the summer season. She noted that Cupsogue in 2015 had one of its most profitable years, and that parks officials reported that public comments were positive about the existing facilities.
“It did not make sense to spend the allocated money, if taxpayers are telling you they enjoy the facilities that are currently there,” Baird-Streeter said.
Hahn said the deck area has no ocean view because it is below the dune line and no view of Moriches Bay because bathroom modules block the vista.
The decision to put off a new beach pavilion surfaced a week after reports that Suffolk’s sales tax receipts for the first half of the year grew by 1.7 percent — less than half the 3.55 percent the county had forecast in its 2016 budget. The $26.3 million shortfall is in addition to the $186 million budget gap the county had been forecasting.
The old pavilion was valued at $1.7 million, but county officials say the replacement cost would be higher because of new building, sewage and wiring standards.
Legis Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) criticized public works’ $3 million cost estimate for a new facility. He said private builders say the summertime-only structure could be replaced for $750,000.
The 296-acre park, with about a mile of ocean frontage, is located at the western end of Dune Road and just east of Moriches Inlet. Cupsogue attracts tens of thousands of beachgoers annually.