Another grant to strengthen marina and Ho-Hum Beach docks

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Bellport Village’s docks just got the thumbs-up for more infrastructure strengthening via a federal $2.8 million Community Project Funding grant from the Omnibus Appropriations bill.

The funds will aid in removing old timber docks utilized by the Suffolk County Police Marine Unit, Bellport Fire Department, and South Country Ambulance. New docks are planned for Bellport’s Fire Island ferry boat and other watercraft. Floating docks protected by a wave attenuator will replace existing fixed structures.

Ho-Hum Beach is getting attention, too, via bulkhead and pier reconstruction for docking first responder vessels, the ferry, and other watercraft.

The project’s total cost is $3,733,333; the village will kick in $933,333, or 25 percent, with the federal government supplying the remaining 75 percent.

“The federal government is pushing money through HUD,” said mayor Ray Fell of the agency. “We have to hear from them officially before we start with plans, but in the meantime, we are starting a rough draft of what we need.”

The rough draft includes a wave attenuator, replacing the stick and ferry docks as well as the boat launch, dredging, and new poles for the Main and Osbourne Park docks as well, and slips in front of the walkway. The possibility of new slips will be reviewed, as will refacing the north side of the Main Dock.

At Ho-Hum Beach, a new ferry dock, poles for all slip areas, bulkhead replacement, dredging, and new solar panels are hoped for.

The Main Dock has 149 slips; Ho-Hum Beach has 32. Fell said work wouldn’t start until after the marina season ends.

“That Main Dock marina is 40 years old,” Fell said. “So between that and Ho-Hum Beach improvements, we’ll be in good shape for 50 years.”

Fell gave kudos to congressman Lee Zeldin and senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who sponsored the bill.

The village had completed the $2.6 million FEMA Superstorm Sandy restoration just last year, with a soft opening held June 27. It was a major project that included restoration of open areas and sinkholes in the main dock bulkhead and the discovery of marine borers that literally created holes in the wood. It took two grant attempts with FEMA to ameliorate the 2012 damage, plus the hiring of a diver to investigate the cause of the damage. COVID-related delays didn’t help.

Fell said the village was in the midst of assembling the paperwork required by FEMA for the Sandy project reimbursement.

Adon Austin, principal of Rising Tide Waterfront Solutions of Massapequa, who was on board for the Sandy restoration, will be tasked with the Community Project Funding grant as engineer, project designer, and facilitating the project. As with the FEMA grant, the village will have to adhere to government specifications and lay out the infrastructure money first.

“We’ll work with our waterfront engineer,” Fell said. “He’ll give us estimates on our draft proposal. In a month, HUD will contact us officially with a letter. So then, the time clock starts and we have two years to complete the project.”

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