Bellport Village officials are hopeful the pavilion at the village’s Ho Hum Beach on Fire Island will be ready by summer.
In the meantime, residents are asked to keep off the $240,000, two-story pavilion, which opened to the public in 2015 after the prior pavilion washed away in Sandy.
(The video above was shot by Mike Busch of fireislandandbeyond.com on Easter Sunday.)
“It’s not safe,” Bellport Mayor Ray Fell said of the wooden structure, which was built farther back toward the dunes then the prior structure. Fell and the rest of the Village Board circulated an engineers’ report before Monday night’s board meeting.
The report indicates the pavilion is in danger of toppling, given the 27-foot pilings that are supporting it need to be at least 10 feet into the ground.
It also includes photos showing the pavilion as it has appeared in the sand over the past two years.
full report appears below
Three separate weather events have greatly eroded the sand under the pavilion since the early winter of 2016, with the latest coming in late March of this year.
An inspection on April 5 “found that the additional loss of beach sediment exceeds the minimum pile embedment of 10 feet,” reads the report from Nelson & Pope Engineers and Surveyors of Melville. “It is the opinion of the structural engineers that the pavilion shall not be occupied until additional stabilization efforts have taken place or the beach sediment has been replenished.”
Fell tried to stike an optimistic tone Monday night.
“We’re assuming, and maybe it’s not right,” he said, “I’m assuming that, as we move into the spring and the summer, the beach will become a little bit more to what we remember it, and not the way it was in February, March and early April of this year.”
Ho-Hum Beach, a stretch of barrier beach just west of the Fire Island Wilderness Breach that was ripped open by Sandy — and the federal government has decided not to close — has eroded tremendously since the storm, said Fell and other village officials.
“[The new inlet] been good for Bellport Bay, which is the cleanest it’s ever been,” said Fell. “But bad for Bellport Beach.”
Fell said it could be just as expensive to move the pavilion as it was to build it. The pavilion and the boardwalk cost $508,000 total, 90 percent of which was covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Other options are to mechanically re-fill the eroded sand. “We have to explore short-term solutions … and long-term solutions,” Fell said.
The report did not indicate how much possible solutions could cost.
And the long-term solution could very well be to do nothing, Fell acknowledged, if the sand returns on its own.
“We don’t know when the erosion stops, when that new equilibrium is reached,” he told GreaterPatchogue Tuesday morning. “We don’t know when the beach is going to be reestablished.”
The village will be revisiting the beach soon, and if the pilings are again deemed to be too exposed, then “keep off the pavilion” signs will be posted and the structure will be taped off.
Since the boardwalk from Bellport Bay through the dunes leads right into the pavilion, the village is considering ways to direct foot traffic, possibly with steps, off the side of the boardwalk and onto the ocean beach.
The good news, said Trustee Joseph Gagliano, is the beach — albeit an eroded one — will once again be enjoyed this summer.
“The pavilion might not be open, but the beach will be open,” he told the residents.