FIMI Deconstruction: A Requiem for the Homes

In recent weeks, in order to build 19miles of new dunes on the south side of Fire Island, about 20 oceanfront homeshave been bulldozed to the ground. While homeowners were given the opportunity to move their homes to an available plot of land, mostpeople opted for an official appraisal and buyout by the government. However,these residents gave up their homes nearly two years ago and they have satempty since, which hasn’t sat right with residents.

Lifetime Ocean Bay Park resident, aswell as sales associate for this publication, Beth Errico said some people intown tried to stop the demolition but ultimately “not enough people cametogether to make a difference.”

The project, led by the U.S. ArmyCorps of Engineers (USACE), was implemented not long after Superstorm Sandy in2012, to protect homes and the island from further erosion and breeches. The$207 million federally funded project was awarded to Brownie Companies of LongIsland to carry out the demolition.

“It’s great how well [constructionmembers are] working on it and getting the houses down because it’s painful towatch,” Errico said. “So it’s better to get in [and] get it done so we can seethe positive rather than the negative of watching the houses come down.”

Ocean Bay Park resident Jim Williams misses his friends who once lived on the ocean.

“It’s not just the houses or look of that makes it different,” Williams said. “It’s that those people that were in those houses, that were part of the community, are gone also.”

Dismantling oceanfront homes that have often stood for decades, has been a sober task to execute and witness on Fire Island. (Photo by Lauren Chenault)

For many Fire Islanders, a home can carry a lifetime of memories and rich family history.

“I grew up on the island and each oneof those houses is special,” Errico said. “You can put a fair market value onit but, truly, my home on Fire Island is priceless.”

Williams and Errico, along with otherresidents, believe the money put toward building additional dunes could havebeen better spent on reinforcing the existing sandbar or adding jetties allalong the island.

“I don’t know if this dune is goingto be any better than the God-given dune that was there before,” Errico said.

Fire Islanders will certainly be keeping a sharp eye on the newdune to observe its effectiveness in the months following its conception, aswell as the years to come.