Barbara La Rocco, president and founder of Going Coastal, said there are already many kayak launch sites that people use along the waterways. “What we’re looking to do is fill in the gaps,” she said, “make a consistent trail.” The trail, she added, will stretch from the western edge of the Town of Hempstead to the Suffolk County border. Going Coastal has partnered with Cameron Engineering & Associates of Woodbury on the project.
“The vision is that we have a trail that not only links recreational and cultural resources,” La Rocco said, “but as well can have an economic impact on the community by bringing new people into the community, by opening launches and areas where people will have access to new resources.”
On the South Shore Blueway Trail website, people can take a survey about their kayaking habits, as well as pinpoint launch sites, points of interests or potential hazards on an interactive map. John Shiels, a commercial masonry contractor from Freeport, has kayaked for more than three years. He recently gave his input on the website and wants the project to get done soon. “It is great they are getting input from paddlers as to what features they would want the most,” he said.
La Rocco said she plans to host public meetings in the spring and hopes to have an official draft of the full Blueway Trail done in early summer.
At Empire Kayaks, Fehling said most people kayak for recreational purposes, but it isn’t out of the question to kayak to get around the South Shore. Before moving to Island Park with his wife, Michael used to kayak from Lido Beach to her home on the water in Bellmore. He added that kayaking is a user-friendly sport that most anyone can do.
Like much of Island Park, Fehling’s business took a serious hit during Hurricane Sandy and is still without power. Empire Kayaks took on about five feet of water and a lot of equipment and inventory was destroyed. Fehling said he hopes to reopen in December.