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Plans for Shorefront Park renovations unveiled; project set to begin this summer

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After nearly eight years, long awaited renovations to Shorefront Park are coming.

In a public presentation Monday evening, the Village of Patchogue, VHB Engineering and QRP Landscape Architects unveiled plans for a new living shoreline to replace the current bulkhead at Shorefront Park.

Running the full length of the park’s approximate 1,200-foot waterfront edge, the new living shoreline will boast a rock revetment wall and a 50-foot wide wetland area with vegetation and sand dunes. The concept mimics natural features and processes using native materials. It will protect against storm surge and will improve biodiversity and water quality, the planner said.

“These types of installations have been used by coastal people all up and down the East Coast, particularly in the Chesapeake area, where they’ve been very successful,” Kevin Walsh of VHB said during the presentation. “This is an exciting new application here on Long Island that we hope is going to take hold and be used in other places.”

The living shoreline is but one portion of the plans to renovate Shorefront Park, home of the annual Great South Bay Music Festival. Dennis Smith, head of the village’s Business Improvement District, said new playground equipment was previously installed at the park. Beth Franz of QRP said the engineering firms will discuss recreational plans for the “upland” portion of the park some time in 2023.

While not all of the recreational features are known, plans call for walkways and a kayak launch area on the western end of the shoreline.

Earlier Monday evening, during its regularly scheduled meeting, the Village Board approved a $3.7 million bid contract for the project to Great Neck-based Galvin Brothers Inc. The project’s hefty price tag has been met with various state and county grants, as well as a chunk of private funds donated to the village for recreation renovations.

As far as construction goes, Walsh aims to truncate what would likely be a year-long job down to a nine-month process, which he expects will kick off late summer of 2023.

The village’s millions

It started with a phone call in 2015.

Mayor Paul Pontieri discussed the village’s needs with an unnamed benefactor, who championed recreational facilities as a paramount need in the village.

The woman donated $5 million to the village. Pontieri said he nearly choked on his lunch.

The village used a majority of the funds to renovate existing parks. Father Tortora and Belzak parks were revamped with new playground equipment atop more kid-friendly surfaces; the Four Sisters Tennis Court was reconfigured with three new tennis and four pickle ball courts; the Waldbauer Field Complex received a new turf baseball field, fencing, dugouts and irrigation, together with a first responders memorial.

The village has previously invested in Shorefront Park, in the form of the Sept. 11, 2001, memorial park located on Maiden Lane at the end of Cedar Avenue.

Most recently, the village used some of the donated funds to break ground on a new kiddie splash pad at the village’s pool and beach club down by the bay.

After all this, $2 million of the initial anonymous donation remained. Thanks to the efforts of village grant writer Marian Russo, the village can hang on to most of that and cover the Shorefront Park renovation’s hefty price tag. She applied for and received five state and county grants worth $3 million:

  • $202,000 from the New York State Department of State for the design of the living shorefront.
  • $2,189,000 from the New York State Department of State for the construction of the living shorefront.
  • $317,000 from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for the project’s walkways, benches, kayak launch and plantings.
  • $45,000 from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation for habitat restoration.
  • $250,000 from Suffolk County for the restoration and water quality improvement of Little Creek.

“One of the reasons this project was so attractive to the department of state … is because when it’s complete, this will be the largest permitted living shoreline in New York State,” Russo said. “And one of the reasons for the delay … is because this is the first time the DEC is looking at a living shoreline engineered this way.”

Flooding prevention beyond the rocks

The Suffolk County grant highlights the significance of one particularly large part of the renovation: Little Creek. Russo explained the funds are “a water quality grant directed specifically at Little Creek in order to deal with upland flooding, and also with the water quality … because of the impeded flow into the bay.”

Stagnation, poor water quality and flooding are typical of Little Creek. As part of the Shorefront Park renovation, the creek will be reopened more freely into the bay, alleviating these issues.

The creek flows through the upland portion of the project, a concern for residents who attended Monday’s presentation and who endure flooding issues firsthand. Franz said the initial phase of the project calls for a bioswale nearing the upland region to help with neighbors flooding concerns and overall water quality in the bay.

A bioswale is “a concave channel that’s vegetated and adds to what the living shoreline is doing by improving water quality and protecting you against stormwater and collecting stormwater,” Franz explained. “It will slowly settle out, which keeps everything from overflowing, and any pollutants or things you don’t want in the bay will get filtered out.”

The plans for the upgrades of Shorefront Park in Patchogue being unvieled to the public Monday night at Village Hall. (Credit: Nicholas Grasso)

Top: File photo of Shorefront Park in Patchogue.