A byproduct of any disaster is a “rising from the ashes” scenario. That is what the director of operations at Jones Beach State Park, Hank Leggio said about the beach and its continuing recovery, nearly two years after Hurricane Sandy. He went on to state that aside from needed repairs, most of the additions and renovations made to the renowned state park were planned long before the storm hit.
When walking around the Jones Beach area, visitors are greeted by a variety of new improvements and additions. Some are easy to see as part of an operation to heal the scars left by Sandy. But, Leggio insisted, “Any connection to the storm is a mere coincidence.”
He added that visitors can expect to see new features regularly appearing at Jones Beach. “Every year,” he said, “we can look forward to something else being done to make our park more beautiful then we feel it already is.”
Some of the new additions have already been completed, while others are being tested this summer, and others are in the process of being built or conceptualized. One new feature is a fishing pier off Ocean Parkway, under the bridge that brings visitors into the park. The pier was built on what is known as Green Island, and has been talked about by the local fishing community for the past decade or so.
Renovations have been completed on the park’s iconic water tower, in the middle of the traffic circle where the Ocean and Wantagh parkways intersect.
Many visitors have expressed a desire to see more dining options in the park. “I’ve been coming here for many years,” said Wilfred Thewes, 72, of Commack. “Things have improved, but there’s a lot I feel should be addressed. I’d like to see a new restaurant.”
Starting this year, the beach has introduced Smokin Al’s, open now for limited hours, and Red Mango. It has also started a pilot program with Smorgasbar from the Brooklyn-based marketplace, Smorgasburg.
Smorgasbar is a series of tents and lounge space in which vendors from Brooklyn sell a variety of gourmet foods. It was set up in the vacant space where a restaurant and catering hall owned by Donald Trump was to be built, but the new operation will remain under Jones Beach management. The plan is for it to eventually become a two-story restaurant.