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West Hampton Dunes vies in national poll

View of the ocean beach along West Hampton

View of the ocean beach along West Hampton Dunes, which is in contention for the nation's best restored beach. (April 26, 2012) Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

With a day left to vote, West Hampton Dunes is in the running for the title of "best restored urban beach" in the nation.

The Suffolk oceanfront community -- located along Dune Road's barrier island -- as of 8 a.m. Friday was narrowly leading Panama City Beach, Fla., 6,780 to 6,217, with 19,308 votes cast.

In all, two dozen urban beaches -- from Kuhio, Hawaii, to Moonlight Beach, Calif., to Cape May, N.J. -- are vying for the honor.

Voting through the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association's website ends Friday at midnight. The winner will be announced in about a week, association officials say.

"We got them where we want them," quipped West Hampton Dunes Village Mayor Gary Vegliante. "I think we're the only village in the contest and we're competing against places like Miami Beach and Boca Raton. But I'm doing everything in my realm and calling everyone I know who has ever enjoyed our beaches."

Dan Rowe, president and chief executive of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, countered: "Our sand is sugar-white. It squeaks when you walk on it . . .

"It's been kind of nip-and-tuck all the way through this thing," he said of the online battle with West Hampton Dunes, which began March 30. "But with all due respect to our friends in New York, we fully intend to win the crown."

Ken Gooderham, an executive director of the beach preservation association, said the contest has been held for 10 years, and that this year's competition is a "best of the best," among past winners. West Hampton Dunes won four years ago.

"We do this as a popularity contest to remind people that the beaches they love have all once been restored," and need continued support to keep them up, Gooderham said.

The Village of West Hampton Dunes, with a population of 55 in the 2010 Census, was created largely to bring a lawsuit against Suffolk County, the state and the Army Corps of Engineers, after storms in 1992 caused the ocean to breach the barrier island, destroying 190 of the area's 260 homes. Local officials blamed the damage on 15 huge oceanfront stone groins built in the 1960s, which had the effect of scouring away the beach just to the west of the last structure. A 1994 settlement resulted in a plan to remove one and taper the rest, which allowed the beach to replenish.

Vegliante said the 4 miles of oceanfront cited in the village's contest entry includes the county-owned Cupsogue Beach and the town's Pike's Beach. He noted that the area has six walkways to the beach and paths to bayside bird-watching areas.

"We've gone from the worst to the best," Vegliante said.Among those who have cast an online ballot for West Hampton Dunes is Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), who became aware of the contest on Monday.

"I'm very proud of West Hampton Dunes," said Bishop, who has fought for beach funding. "It has become a very vibrant community with a very stable ocean beach. It's an example of a government partnership that works."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone urged all county residents to help put the village over the top in the voting.

"Long Island has some of the greatest beaches in the country," he said. "I'm voting for West Hampton Dunes and encourage all county residents to do the same."

Voters can cast their ballots once every 24 hours at http://www.asbpa.org/about_us/about_us_best_restored_beach_2012_urban.htm With Paul LaRocco

 

The Vote

 

 

  1. West Hampton Dunes, N.Y., 6,780 votes -- 35 percent

 

 

 

 

 

  • Panama City Beach, Fla., 6,217 -- 32 percent
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  • Isle of Palms, S.C., 3,054 -- 16 percent
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  • South Walton and Destin, Fla., 883 -- 5 percent
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  • Pinellas County, Fla., 568 -- 3 percent
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  • North Boca Raton, Fla., 394 -- 2 percent
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  • Lido Key, Fla., 287 -- 1 percent
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  • Miami Beach, Fla., 273 -- 1 percent
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  • Collier County, Fla., 231 -- 1 percent
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  • Gulf Shores/Orange, Beach, Fla., 135 -- 1 percent
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    *as of 8 a.m. Friday

    Source: American Shore & Beach Preservation Association

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