To the delight of anglers and beachgoers alike, Cupsogue Beach County Park opened to the public for the first time in nearly a month on Friday morning.
Several surfcasters visited the park, which had been blocked off at its entrance since the Suffolk County-owned Beach Hut burned to the ground on September 13, last Friday afternoon. Some of those interviewed expressed gratitude that the beach was once again accessible, while others felt that the reopening was long overdue.
“I think [the county] made their money already and decided, since people aren’t camping any more and the Beach Hut isn’t there, that it wasn’t a priority to get it back open,” said Blaise Ferranino of Remsenburg. “It was no longer a money-maker for them, so they said why bother opening it back up for a couple fishermen and people who want to go for a walk on the beach.”
Mr. Ferranino, who was fishing near the Moriches Inlet on Friday, noted that, in recent years, he’s gone fishing there about three times a week during surfcasting season, which typically runs from Labor Day until the end of the year.
Although he has a Southampton Town permit that allows him to drive onto other beaches, Mr. Ferranino said keeping Cupsogue Beach County Park closed for nearly a month was unfair to other anglers who do not live in the town and have few other options.
“Of course, I’m happy it’s opened back up,” he said. “I just think it’s been closed for too long.”
Suffolk County Parks Commissioner Greg Dawson said the park remained closed after the fire because he was concerned people would venture onto the large pile of charred debris and injure themselves. He later said the task of clearing the wreckage of the Beach Hut took longer than anticipated and, therefore, he decided to open the park back even though none of the debris has yet been removed.
As of earlier this week, the pile of debris remains at the park, blocked off by wooden snow fencing.
During the summer months, the beach was secured by the Suffolk County Park Police, which became defunct earlier this month after it was absorbed by the Suffolk County Police Department. Parks spokeswoman Emily Lauri said she is not sure who is in charge of patrolling the park, which is technically in East Moriches and a part of Brookhaven Town even thought it is located on the western-most end of Dune Road and just west of the Village of West Hampton Dunes.
The area around the Beach Hut has been surrounded by wooden snow fencing since last month’s blaze, though this past week tall wooden blockades were also installed on the ramps that once led to the elevated deck of the concession stand and music venue.
Other visitors at Cupsogue Beach on Friday afternoon, including Clive and Amonrat Thompson, who went fishing on the bay side of the park, were less frustrated by the extended closure. The couple, who are from England and have been staying with family members who have a house in the area for the past week, frequent the park whenever they’re in town, according to Mr. Thompson.
Despite not catching anything, Mr. Thompson said he was glad to spend some time on the beach, adding that a month-long closure, in his mind, was not excessive.
“It’s only about a month, so it really hasn’t been too long,” he said.