Only Footprints – The Ocean Beach Community Report

By Patrick and Theresa MacriWith Memorial Day in the books, the start of summer season 2015 is officially underway. With the full array of businesses open, the returning summer masses donned beach attire and flip flops, and ignored the sometimes chilly and breezy conditions. Yes, Mother Nature’s unpredictable persona caused many to stay off the beaches early in the weekend and nary a soul dared jump into the mid-50 degree ocean and bay. By Monday, however, the sun turned it up a notch, the winds subsided a bit but only the bravest took a first of the season plunge into the still chilly sea.With the beaches fairly empty, town was jumping as many flocked to their favorite stores and restaurants. Ocean Beach was packed and with it came the good and the bad. More on that later…On Saturday, with so many people in town, it was a perfect time for the Ocean Beach Fire Department’s annual blood drive done in partnership with the Long Island Blood Center. The firehouse was cleared out of all vehicles, and a blood bank donation center was setup. Approximately 12 trained medical personnel manned the operation, and after a full day, 45 pints of blood were added to LIBC’s much needed inventory.On Sunday, Ocean Beach held its annual Memorial Day celebration to honor the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces. The American Veterans of Patchogue and the American Legion Joseph Loeffler Post of Brentwood joined veterans from many Fire Island communities, along with the OBFD and OBPD in a parade. There was a service on the Village Green that included an address by Mayor Mallott, comments by Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter, a gun salute and our very own Don Robbins played “Taps.” As always it was a very moving ceremony.The celebration then continued at the newly restored Ocean Beach Fire Hall. For the first time since Hurricane Sandy, the members of the OBFD opened their doors for a reception for all of the Memorial Day ceremony participants. It was great to see so many OBFD members volunteering to serve these noble women and men.Speaking of annual traditions, May is the time to celebrate academic achievements. This past month we are proud to report that five of our local community’s bright young minds received their college degrees. Congratulations to:Liam Burke: BA, film studies/production, University of North Carolina at Wilmington Sam Jossen: BA, sociology, SUNY AlbanyAila Rose Macri: BA, environmental studies, SUNY PlattsburghKaitlin Smith: BS, summa cum laude in psychology, Lynn University, Boca Raton, FloridaBrady Tannenhill: BS, child and family studies, Syracuse UniversityAll five students are “year rounder’s” and/or have families with deep roots to OB. We wish them well in their next exciting life adventure. As these young people are getting ready to embark on a new challenge, we would like to ask all of our friends to support another young OB resident who is facing a very serious personal challenge. Joey Sylla is a lifelong Fire Islander. He has spent summers on the island since he was a little boy, attended OBYG and eventually become a counselor there. Joey, an all-star soccer player, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 17. He and his family are currently in need of support more than ever. Please read more about his story here, gofundme.com/tdz8rx2t, consider donating to his treatment and forwarding it along to others. Thank you in advance for your help.Health and safety should always be our top priorities, and now that the weather is getting warmer, more people will soon be seeking relief in the ocean as a way to beat the (hopefully forthcoming) summer heat. We spoke to Nick Stertz, OB’s Chief lifeguard, about the threats swimmers could face and what they can do to educate themselves about averting potential dangers. According to Nick, riptide is one of the main problems facing beachgoers every year. So much, in fact, that the village has posted new signs down many of the streets with beach access, identifying some tips for swimmers as well as what to do if you get caught in a rip current. Look for the signs or go to ripcurrents.noaa.gov for more information.If you do get into a situation, the VOB lifeguards are staffed and trained to respond to almost any beach incident. Led by Nick with his 16 years experience, a seasoned team with 31 returnees this year will be covering the village beaches. Please listen to their warning whistles, obey their requests and keep clear of the jetties!Speaking of health and safety, we alluded to a “bad” situation earlier in this article. The annual swelling population of returning homeowners and renters this past Memorial Day weekend, exacerbated by scores of day-trippers and night stalkers coming from an over-sold event in Ocean Bay Park, became the recipe for the perfect storm in our downtown area.Several incidents of drunken, rowdy, assaultive behavior were reported. Public furor set Facebook ablaze as many citizens demanded action to rectify this situation. And listen they did. OBPD’s Chief Hesse along with Scott Hirsch of the OB Restaurant Association, arranged for a meeting the day after Memorial Day. In attendance were all members of the OB Restaurant Association, Trustees Greg Pace and Jason Bendicksen, OBFD Chief Levine and Fire Island Ferries representatives. The group met behind closed doors to begin discussions on a unilateral plan to combat this unfortunate epidemic of disregard for decency. This darkness has got to end. Stay tuned for updates.At deadline, I just wanted to mention that the candidates for VOB trustee positions had a well-attended public forum this past Saturday, May 30. All of the candidates — Chris Norris, Greg Pace, Matt Blake and Brian Power — are very passionate residents with deep roots in the OB community. The candidates fielded thoughtful questions presented by the community regarding “quality of life issues,” “infrastructure redevelopment” and “needed changes,” among other topics. As all are uniquely qualified individuals, we predict this to be a very interesting and deeply competitive election on June 5.Got Ocean Beach area news for Theresa and Pat? Email them at [email protected].