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Brookhaven Town grants Sayville Ferry a 10-year lease to Cherry Grove

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The Sayville Ferry — which has taken beachgoers across the Great South Bay to Fire Island since 1894 — was recently approved for a 10-year lease for service to and from Cherry Grove.

The Brookhaven Town Board unanimously voted 7-0 in favor of the resolution at the meeting on Aug. 25.

“After much negotiation, code amendment, and COVID, we finally do have a deal,” said Annette Eaderesto, the Brookhaven Town attorney. “In addition to the appraised value, the ferry service had put in some luggage racks at the town’s request, so we will be giving them credit for those for the amount due.”

According to reports, Brookhaven Town officials agreed to cut the ferry company’s annual rent in the first four years of the contract, in recognition of the implementation of luggage racks and other improvements made to the Cherry Grove dock that cost the ferry company up to $65,000.

Sayville Ferry Service’s rent for this year decreased from $38,000 to $21,000, according to Brookhaven Town documents.

The annual rent for the Sayville Ferry Service going forward in this lease will be as follows:

  • In 2023, the rent will decrease from $38,000 to $21,500 and remain the same for 2024.
  • The cost will increase two percent over time, with a significant price hike from $23,750 in 2025 to $39,525 the following year.
  • By the end of their 10-year contract in 2031, the Sayville Ferry Company will pay $44,000 in rent.

The Sayville Ferry — which operates out of a marina on Browns River in Sayville — also provides service to and from Water Island, the Fire Island Pines and Sailors Haven.

Cherry Grove was actually one of the first communities the Sayville Ferry ever traveled to.

Charles Karl Stein, a German immigrant, started the service in 1894 by carrying charter parties to either Cherry Grove or Water Island in his gaff-rigged raft, Mildred H., which was equipped with a “shoving pole” in case the wind gave out on the bay.

The Town of Brookhaven enacted Town Code Section 22.4 by a local law adopted on March 19, 1983, which regulates the use of public docks in the Cherry Grove Dock District.

The Town Board amended this code by local law adopted in January 2020, to the extent that they may grant consent for the use of these docks for a term of up to ten years, and set a fee for this use.

Top photo: One of the Sayville Ferry Service’s vessels, The Fire Island Empress, sailing across the Great South Bay. (Sayville Ferry Service / Facebook)