Bridge Marine is located near the Bayville Bridge. (July 16,...

Bridge Marine is located near the Bayville Bridge. (July 16, 2013) Credit: Tara Conry

During my first two days in Bayville, I’ve gone over the Bayville Bridge quite a few times, but this afternoon, I passed underneath it for the first time.

Bridge Marine owner Richard Valicenti, who operates a marina, a boat service station and a clam bar along Mill Neck Creek, took me for a ride in one of his rental speed boats. Going under the bridge, we entered Oyster Bay Harbor, where we were marveled at the exquisite homes on neighboring Centre Island, including Billy Joel’s.

“It’s a beautiful harbor,” said Valicenti, 58, who has owned his marina for the past 37 years. “It has everything you need and the water is always clean.”

As we made our way back to home base, Valicenti turned the steering wheel over to me. Speeding toward the Bayville bridge with the wind in my face, I could understand why Bayville residents love the water so much.

Whether it’s Mill Neck Creek, Oyster Bay Harbor or the Long Island Sound, the water has and always will play a big part in the lives of Bayville residents.

Check out our “Historical Photos of Bayville” photo gallery, and you’ll see shots spanning the 1900s showing what it was like to vacation or live year-round in this beach community. There are shots of adults and kids, clad in bathing caps, diving into Mill Neck Creek off the swimming pier that once stood there. You’ll also see bathers splashing around in the Long Island Sound at Ferry Beach, which is now home to the Crescent Beach Club. Back then, many visitors arrived at the beach by a ferry. The ferry, called Sankaty, made its last voyage from Ferry Beach to Connecticut in the fall of 1937.

In the photos, which were provided by the Bayville Historical Museum, you can also see the beginnings of the Frank Flowers & Sons shellfishing business, which still operates an oyster hatchery in the creek. I’ll be visiting there Thursday.

Living by the water has it’s dangers, though, too. That was evident when I saw the photo taken in September 1938 of the Oak Neck boathouse in Bayville, which was destroyed when “The Long Island Express” made landfall.

I also saw it during my boat ride today as Valicenti pointed on the new wall that Nassau County has constructed along West Shore Road, which runs along Oyster Bay Harbor. Flooding from superstorm Sandy caused the road to collapse, so as the road was repaired, a barrier was put in place hoping to protect it from future storms.

Despite the looming threat of Mother Nature, though, Jean Mansueto, a Bayville resident and who has been selling homes in Bayville for the past 43 years, told me earlier this week that waterfront real estate in the village is still desirable.

When asked what attracts people to Bayville and motivates them to stay, Mansueto replied, “Water, water, water.”

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