Kings Park-based Pioneer Landscaping and Asphalt Paving will do the...

Kings Park-based Pioneer Landscaping and Asphalt Paving will do the work at Callahans Beach, which Smithtown officials said they want to reopen by next summer. Credit: James Carbone

Smithtown’s Town Board this week awarded a $2.3 million contract for repairs to Callahans Beach, and officials said they hope to reopen by summer 2023. 

The Fort Salonga site, which overlooks the Long Island Sound and is part of the town’s park system, has been mostly closed since September 2021, when remnants of Hurricane Ida damaged a waterfront bluff and a stairway leading down to the sand. An upland camping and picnic area remained open. 

“We want to move as quickly as possible,” Town Supervisor Edward Wehrheim told Newsday. “We want that beach open for next season.” 

Kings Park-based Pioneer Landscaping and Asphalt Paving will do the work, but officials said the town needs permits first from the state Department of Environmental Conservation because of the park’s environmentally sensitive waterfront location. 

Joseph Arico, town park maintenance director, said that could take several weeks. Arico said town officials discussed the project with their DEC counterparts but waited to apply until they had the project’s cost and engineering specifications. They also waited to allow for site visits by Suffolk County and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials in what Arico and Wehrheim said was a fruitless bid for outside funding for the repairs.

“We’re on our own,” Wehrheim said.

A DEC spokesman said the agency was reviewing a permit application the town submitted Aug. 1. "DEC subjects all permit applications to a comprehensive review to ensure they meet the standards in place that are protective of public health and the environment," the spokesman said in an email. 

Smithtown resident Irwin Izen, speaking Tuesday at the board meeting, criticized what he said was slow work.

“I think it’s a year behind where it should be,” he said.

Other town beaches including Short Beach and Long Beach were open to town residents this summer, but Izen said those locations — near Stony Brook Harbor  — are too far to easily reach. The intervening Nissequogue River makes the trip about a dozen miles long, a 30-minute drive.

Arico said in an interview that the project would be “in line with DEC approvals” already granted this year for similar work at the Port Jefferson Country Club. And, he said, town officials had moved cautiously to plan complicated work.

“We didn’t want to go haphazardly,” he said. “We wanted to be smart with this and spend constituents’ money the right way.” 

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