In the wake of a coastal hurricane event of historic proportions ravaging Fire Island less than six months ago, the question people are now asking will Fire Island be ready for the summer crowds in 2013? The answer is a resounding yes as residents, municipal officials, and merchants of local businesses are mobilizing to bring Fire Island back. There have been challenges every step of the way, but the rate of progress remains swift, and it can be said with confidence that a positive visiting experience is in store for the tourists and vacationers who make Fire Island their destination this summer.
“There has been a lot of sensationalized media coverage about the devastation Hurricane Sandy brought to Fire Island, but very little about our progress and restoration efforts since then,” explains Laura Mercogliano, proprietor of The Palms Hotel in Ocean Beach, NY. “This is a disservice to small business owners as well as the public who come to enjoy Fire Island.”
If there is anyone who knows about restoration efforts, it may very well be Laura Mercogliano. She and her husband Chris purchased and renovated aging economy lodgings in the center of Ocean Beach and founded The Palms Hotel in 2005. Over the next five years their thriving business grew to include satellite establishments on the east and western ends of Ocean Beach that included a range of luxury suites and cottages, and in short order The Palms gained the reputation of being one of the premier resort hotels on Fire Island.
They have no intention of allowing the storm to interfere with their plans for the summer of 2013. These plans include the unveiling of the Presidential Penthouse Suite, their most palatial unit to date at 1200 square feet, with four bedrooms and amenities that include a personal attendant. They also have undertaken their first restaurant venture with the acquisition of CJ’s, a legendary bar and casual eatery in the heart of downtown Ocean Beach. The institution that is CJ’s almost ceased to be with the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy, as would-be purchasers backed out of the deal upon assessment of the damage. However where one party saw loss, the Mercoglianos recognized new possibilities. CJ’s is now scheduled to open its doors next May.
Fire Island may be many things to different people, but when all is said and done Fire Island is a barrier beach, which by definition means it is constantly developing and rebuilding itself. Fire Island weathered the storm, and its cherished heritage has emerged stronger than ever.