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County developing plan to revive Mastic Beach marina

Suffolk County officials say the old Violet's Cove

Suffolk County officials say the old Violet's Cove in Mastic Beach could turn into an ecotourism site with educational facilities. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Violet's Cove, the long-shuttered Mastic Beach restaurant and marina that has defied previous restoration efforts, could be brought back to life under a plan being developed by Suffolk County officials.

The property on Violet Road and Floral Court, which had been seized by the county for nonpayment of taxes, may become a focal point of efforts to rebuild the former village's waterfront as a tourism destination with walking trails and educational facilities, officials said.

The restaurant, which closed more than a decade ago and then was heavily damaged in October 2012 by superstorm Sandy, likely would be razed, officials said. County officials have not decided what might be built in its place.

Suffolk officials plan to use part of a $500,000 allocation for revitalizing Mastic Beach to study possible uses of Violet's Cove, Legis. Rudy Sunderman (R-Shirley) said. The county Legislature next month is expected to vote on a resolution that would allow limited development in a conservation area that includes the closed eatery.

“We’re looking at it for ecotourism, recreation and educational use," Sunderman said in an interview. "Our goal is to make the property to [be a] benefit for the environment.”

A 2014 report by New York Rising, the state agency charged with leading post-Sandy rebuilding efforts, identified Violet's Cove as a potential centerpiece of economic development in Mastic Beach. A new restaurant-marina, the report said, "will make the community more attractive to summer vacationers and full-time residents alike."

The report added that the waterfront property would have to be rebuilt to withstand future storms. That could include elevating existing structures and installing landscaping that would absorb and divert flooding. 

Before Mastic Beach Village disbanded in December 2017, the village board approved a plan to buy Violet's Cove for $150,000. Officials ultimately rescinded the resolution when they decided the financially strapped village couldn't afford the $2.1 million cost of elevating and rehabilitating the property.

Former Mayor Maura Spery said Violet's Cove is "a great location" that would be ideal for teaching residents about climate change and sea level rise.

“We have this super-diverse ecosystem here and it's really cool,” Spery said. “They’re not building any new waterfront like this. We have something incredibly unique.”

Sunderman said recreational and educational facilities must mesh with conservation efforts. 

“Whether it’s a boat ramp or a kayak launch, if you’re looking at something like that ... you put something in there that’s storm-worthy," he said. “You can’t put money into something that isn’t going to withstand storm surge.”

Brookhaven Town Councilman Dan Panico said county efforts to revitalize the waterfront dovetail with the town's plan to attract new business and tourism to Mastic Beach. But he said many residents yearn for a new eatery to replace Violet's Cove.

“The people of Mastic Beach have always desired to see an entity such as a restaurant be developed on that property …. I hope they can find a buyer to satisfy the desire of the community,” Panico said.

“It’s million-dollar views. That’s the true beauty of Mastic Beach, is its natural, unspoiled waterfront.”

Caretaking costs

NY Rising in 2014 prepared estimates for restoring Violet's Cove and protecting the former restaurant from future storms.

$1.4 million: Elevate and repair existing building

$780,000: Build resilient landscape, including gravel parking lots and flood-resistant plants

$98,000: Repair dock pilings and install boat-berthing facilities designed to survive floods, such as floating docks and gangways

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