Robert Moses State Park (Long Island)
The park lies in southern Suffolk County on the western end of Fire Island, one of the central barrier Islands off the southern coast of Long Island. It is known for its 5-mile (8.0 km) stretch of splendid beaches on the open Atlantic Ocean and is a popular summer recreational destination in the New York City area. The park is accessible from Long Island by the Robert Moses Causeway across Great South Bay. This 875-acre (3.54 km2) facility is the oldest state park on Long Island.
The park is perhaps best known for its 5 miles (8.0 km) of beach, which visitors can use for swimming, surfing, or fishing. Umbrella rentals are available at each field, and guests can also use the four bathhouses on the property. Anglers can fish from either the beach or the piers. A day use boat basin that can accommodate up to 40 boats is also available. On the west end of the park is an 18 hole pitch and putt golf course. The course is fairly secluded and meanders through native beech trees and vegetation. It is typically open April through November and equipment rental is available. The park also contains four concession stands (one at each field), volleyball courts, first-aid stations, picnic areas, and a new playground at Field 5.
Immediately to the east of the park is the Fire Island National Seashore. The ocean beach of the Seashore, next to this park, is known as Lighthouse Beach and is a legal and family oriented Clothing optional beach. There is signage on the beach 150 feet (46 m) beyond the boundary of the Seashore to alert unsuspecting visitors that "Beyond this point, you may encounter nude sunbathers."
As of Memorial Day 2013, Lighthouse Beach is no longer clothing optional. Bathing suits are required at all times, and park police have been observed patrolling the beach and issuing citations to nude sunbathers. Note that in New York State, women are legally permitted to be topless and continue to do so at this beach.
Since there is no parking at the Seashore itself, many day visitors park at Field 5 in order to walk to Lighthouse Beach, the Fire Island Lighthouse and Museum as well as the nearby community of Kismet. New York State officials estimate that about 30% of the users of Field 5 avail themselves of the Lighthouse Beach and the Lighthouse itself.
The park is accessible by automobile from the Robert Moses Causeway, which connects Fire Island with mainland Long Island. The park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset and parking is available in 4 separate fields, though fees vary by season. Parking Fields 1,3 and 4 have a capacity of roughly 1000 vehicles while the capacity at field two is 500. Charging starts each season during the first weekend in April. Vehicle fees are $10.00 during the peak season (Memorial Day through Mid-September) and $8.00 during the off-season (April through Memorial Day and Mid-September to the last weekend of November). Charging hours are 8:00am–4:00pm on weekdays and 7:00am–6:00pm on weekends and holidays. Patrons age 62 and over are eligible for free entry during weekdays (holidays excluded) with their New York State driver's license. Portions of the park are open 24 hours a day to fishermen and stargazers with the appropriate permit.
Initially named Fire Island State Park, the facility attracts about 3.5 million visitors a year.
The west end of Fire Island was part of a Colonial grant to William "Tangier" Smith. In 1825 the federal government acquired the westerly tip to build a lighthouse and David Sammis bought about 120 acres (0.49 km2) to the east in 1855 and built the Surf Hotel.
In 1892, fears of a cholera epidemic spread by passengers on ships arriving in New York prompted the state to acquire the hotel property to establish a quarantine station. Irate local citizens obtained an injunction blocking the quarantine station and occupied the site for a while despite the arrival of troops.
Eventually the state decided the land would better serve as a park and established the Fire Island Park Commission in 1908 to run it. A 1918 fire destroyed the boardwalk and the few buildings on the site.
In 1924, the state established the Long Island State Park Commission headed by "master builder" Robert Moses as part of a statewide park and parkway program, also run by Moses. The commission obtained from the federal government four miles (6 km) of beach west of the lighthouse that had been formed by shifting sand. In 1926 the first bathhouse was erected. After the hurricane of 1938 devastated the park, the commission decided to rebuild farther east near the lighthouse and in 1940, the first modern bathhouse opened to the public.
Ferry service was maintained from Babylon to the park until 1964 when Robert Moses Causeway opened and the park was renamed for Moses. Attendance boomed, so three parking fields with bathhouses were added.
In 2013, a multi-million dollar dredging and beach restoration project was under way to replenish beaches that were damaged during Hurricane Sandy. The $7.7 million project will help open up the Captree State Park boat canal and bring about 520,000 cubic yards of sand to restore beaches at Robert Moses State Park.
Robert Moses State Park celebrated its 100th anniversary June 27, 2008.
The $700,000 rehabilitation of the bathhouse at Field #3, which originally opened to the public in June 1940, was completed largely by parks staff. The renovation included removal of a glass and metal storefront added to the building in the 1980s, allowing the food concession, beach shop and first aid offices to be enlarged with the construction of a new exterior, which complements the original architecture of the building. In addition, the park's cupola and clock have been restored to working order.
Inside, the bathrooms were completely renovated and reconfigured to allow more space and better traffic flow to the changing areas. A new family bathroom has been added to what was formerly closet space in the center entryway of the bathhouse. Renovation of the restrooms involved re-tiling the walls, the floors, new partitions and fixtures. The entire interior and exterior were repainted.
The renovations were part of a $132 million capital improvement spending plan in the 2008 state budget for New York's 178 state parks and 35 historic sites.
The park, originally Fire Island State Park, was renamed for Robert Moses, a "master builder" of mid 20th century New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County, New York, president of the Long Island State Park Commission in the early and middle 20th century who oversaw the expansion of the state park system on Long Island.
- "Detailed Maps of Lighthouse Beach Fire Island". The Long Island Travasuns Inc. Retrieved 2 March 2011.
- "MEETING WITH NEW YORK STATE PARK OFFICIALS Sept 16, 2010". Long Island Travasuns, Inc. Retrieved 7 March 2011. "... approximately 30%, by their estimation, of those parking in Field #5 of Robert Moses State Park are doing so in order to avail themselves of facilities on the federal property, namely the Lighthouse, and even more often the beach near it, commonly known as Lighthouse Beach, which is one of the most popular clothing-optional beaches in the entire Northeast U.S."
- "520,000 cubic yards of sand for Robert Moses park beach". Newsday. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
- New York State Parks: Robert Moses State Park - Long Island
- Fire Island Travel Guide
- Information on Lighthouse Beach
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