By Shoshanna McCollum
At a quiet sunset ceremony on Friday evening, Aug. 25, a select group of guests gathered on the back deck behind Windswept as Ocean Beach Community Fund presented the Incorporated Village of Ocean Beach with $150,000 for the continued restoration of the village-owned property.
“The money will go toward the ground floor decking and public boat racks under the building,” explained OBCF Co-President Holly Etlin. She further explained the check represented a combined effort that included contributions from the Ocean Beach Association (OBA), as well as the George and Lucille Stretch Foundation. “This is the largest purpose-focus fundraising effort,” Etlin continued as she addressed the guests, “and we intend to continue purpose-focus efforts on other public projects like the ferry terminal rehabilitation.”
Then Mayor James Mallott took the podium. “We were told it was a crazy idea –but sometimes crazy does not make it crazy,” he remarked in his casual style. “We fought tooth and nail for this, and we are going to use the whole property for the whole community.”
Mallott then closed with a prayer for the people of Texas, as predictions for Hurricane Harvey were grim, and after all it was another great hurricane that had devastated Windswept nearly five years ago.
Longtime Ocean Beach resident Joel Silverberg said to Fire Island News privately, while circulating on the deck, that the present state of the restoration was an “almost as-built.” While his name may not be on the architect blueprints, it is largely his vision that the project engineers worked with to realize what a restored and improved Windswept could be, and now is almost to fruition.
The decision on whether to preserve the historic building once frequented by Fanny Brice or tear it down and start afresh was one that the people of the village agonized over for the past few years. Of course the residents of Cherry Grove were faced with the same dilemma with their community house, and they too agreed some things are worth saving.
Kudos to The Landing, which catered the gathering nicely as representatives from the Community Fund, Village Board, OBA, fire and police departments were there among those who celebrated the moment. Conspicuously absent was representation from Ocean Beach Youth Group (OBYG) itself. While Mallott did stress in his speech that he wishes to see a continued OBYG presence in the historic building, the season closes with many unanswered questions concerning this reality moving forward. We hope amicable resolution is reached in the near future.
Ocean Beach columnist Joey Marcellaro took ill and required hospitalization at the end of last week. He asked us to relay his regrets that he could not personally say farewell to his readers at season’s end. Let’s all wish Joey a speedy recovery, as he looks forward to returning next year.