By Kyle Campbell
Despite burning to the ground eight months earlier in one of the biggest Dune Road blazes in decades, the Cupsogue Beach County Park Beach Hut opened its doors on Friday afternoon for its 17th season at the county-run park.
A temporary beach hut consisting of a 38-foot mobile kitchen parked alongside a newly constructed bar and deck will serve food and drinks to beach-goers while also providing a small venue for live music, as it has done in years past.
All of the county’s beaches opened for the season on Friday.
The temporary beach hut, along with a recently rebuilt 300-foot-long deck and temporary bathroom stalls, were all part of Suffolk County’s roughly $800,000 renovation of the area that was decimated by flames last September.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Legislator Jay Schneiderman heralded the reconstruction and reopening of the Beach Hut during a press conference held on the elevated boardwalk that overlooks both the Atlantic Ocean and Moriches Bay last Thursday afternoon.
“Anyone who thinks government can’t get anything done hasn’t met our county executive, Steve Bellone, our Public Works Department, or anyone who works for Suffolk County,” said Mr. Schneiderman, who equated the new deck and temporary concession stand to “a phoenix rising from the ashes.”
Suffolk County’s Department of Public Works and the Smithtown-based general contracting firm Austin Interiors completed most of the work, which began at the end of March and wrapped up less than two months later.
Cupsogue is one of two county-owned oceanfront parks with the other being Smith Point County Park, located just across the Moriches Inlet in Shirley. Cupsogue is located just west of West Hampton Dunes Village on Dune Road, but it is technically part of Brookhaven Town.
Fred Marsilio, who owns the Cupsogue Beach Hut as well as several other Beach Huts throughout Long Island, said he anticipates a permanent building being constructed by the summer of 2017.
In the meantime, Mr. Marsilio and his business partner, Phillip O’Reilly, said they are looking forward to another successful season.
“It’s gonna be a great summer here,” Mr. Marsilio said. “The Beach Hut is going to be back without missing a beat.”
Mr. Bellone touted the temporary structures being utilized at Cupsogue as smart investments for the county, explaining that both the kitchen and public bathrooms—which includes six stalls for men and six stalls for women—can eventually be deployed elsewhere in Suffolk, including parks like Indian Island in Riverhead that now lack concession stands.
“We’re really getting the most out of our investment,” he said.
The Suffolk County Arson Squad, which continues to investigate the fire that destroyed the Beach Hut on the night of September 13, 2014, still has not determined a cause. Officials have already shared, however, that they are not treating it like a criminal investigation, suggesting that it was accidental in nature.
Smoke and flames from the fire could be seen from miles around and required the work of 17 fire departments to be extinguished. The blaze destroyed the concession stand, showers, seating, bathrooms and a first-aid station; even parts of the deck that did not fall victim to the flames had to be torn down to make way for new construction.
The beach was closed for a month after the fire while debris was cleared from the scene, eventually reopening in mid-October.