FINS Gets a New Patchogue Terminal

The following NEWSDAY story appeared on July 8.

The new $4.6-million Fire Island ferry terminal will open in Patchogue by Jan. 1, federal officials announced yesterday.

The long-awaited terminal, which has been in the planning stage for years and for which ground was broken in the fall, will replace the old station off West Avenue, officials said. The terminal could open in time for Patchogue’s holiday boat parade, held around Thanksgiving, if all goes well, National Park Service officials said.The project received about $700,000 in federal money earlier this year that will allow the National Park Service to complete a 4,000-square-foot terminal building, Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) said.

The new ferry terminal will be twice the size of the old station and include more restrooms, a community multipurpose room, informational displays and an indoor waiting area, officials said.

When you come here in 2010, there’s going to be a spectacular new facility,” said Christopher Soller, superintendent of Fire Island National Seashore.

The ferry, operated by Davis Park Ferry Co., departs for the Watch Hill section of Fire Island six times daily. The company also runs ferries out of another nearby terminal that goes to Davis Park, a community and public beach operated by Brookhaven.

The new terminal is accompanied by a $5.9-million project to improve bulkheading along about 3,000 square feet of the Patchogue River and Sailor’s Haven, a recreational area on Fire Island. That project, funded with federal stimulus money, will improve boating safety in the area, Bishop said.

“It will also have an aesthetic aspect as well. These are two projects that are long overdue,” Bishop said.

Usage of the Watch Hill ferries dipped from 12,637 in 2005 to 9,726 last year. Soller said he believes the new terminal will generate interest in using the ferry, which picks up passengers at a docking area near the new terminal’s construction site.

Village officials also hope the terminal spurs economic activity in Patchogue, said Deputy Mayor Steve McGiff. “This is a jewel of our village,” he said.