Jones Beach to Develop West End II into Nature Center

DOUGLAS FINLAY

A public hearing at The Landing restaurant on the second floor of the West Bathhouse at Jones Beach laid out an innovative and compelling new use for the West End II comfort station and parking field as a nature and energy center that Jones Beach – and state – officials hope to begin construction on by year’s end or early in 2020 and complete no later than by the end of 2020.

IMG_3381The West End II comfort station is used by JB facilities employees. This photo was taken after Jolly Holiday Village had been dismantled

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation will also designate 218.5 acres of the park’s West End as a Park Preservation Area to enhance protection of its significant maritime coastal habitat.

FOUND NEW USE

The West End II facility had found a new use in recent years when Live Nation, the private company that produces NYCB at Jones Beach Theater summer concerts, contracted with The Magic of Lights to put on a drive-through light show and use the facility as a Jolly Holiday Village sponsored by Toyota that featured Santa Claus, fireplaces for roasting marshmallows and other Holiday events. Between 2000 and 3100 cars were counted during the first weekends at the Jolly Holiday Village in 2018.

Scott Fish, capital facilities manager for the LI Region of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, told Your NewsMag that the plan to convert WE II into an $18 million energy/nature center began about a year ago, “with a pause in between,” to find a better centralized West End location for facilities employees.  West End 1, which currently houses the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center, will be updated to accommodate facilities employees while the nature center is moved to West End II.

“The Jolly Holiday Village will also be moved to West End I, where it originally began,” remarked Wayne Horseley, regional director for the LI Region of NYS Parks.

Horseley said that when PSE&G, Long Island’s electrical utility, heard of the plans for a nature center at West End II, it endorsed the idea and presented its own ideas for an added energy component  at the new location that could educate about the role nature plays in generating energy, and how energy is formed and used in nature.  Other public-private partners include Long Island Power Authority, New York Power Authority and private donors.

IMG_3376The vast parking field will be reduced  from 3000 parking spaces to 1000 and still have plenty of room for visitors

Eric Bunge, principal of nArchitects, PLLC, of Brooklyn, which designed the new energy/nature facility, said the one story 11,000 square-foot structure will be built of several woods, such as cedar and rosewood, which will blend into the surrounding open landscape populated by scrub brush and sand dunes.  Physical structures on the roof will emulate sand dunes, or waves, and face east, where sunlight will generate solar power to run the facility.

2000 of the roughly 3000 parking spaces at West End II will be demolished and the space returned to its natural beach habitat, leaving approximately 1000 parking spaces for visitors to the center, including school and tour groups, and others.

Bunge said several large windows within the building to present spectacular views of the beach landscape will have a special feature to enable birds in the vicinity to detect the glass to keep from flying into it.

Mindful of Robert Moses art deco intentions with Jones Beach, Bunge said the new structure will be built on the original pilings from the art deco building, and raised up gradually seven feet from the parking lot to survive future flooding.

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said of new energy/nature center: “This investment will continue to boost tourism across the region, while preserving our environment and encouraging visitors to support our State’s outdoor resources.”

Meanwhile, State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey remarked that with over six million visitors Jones Beach each year, the Energy and Nature Center will provide an incredible opportunity to help people become better stewards of Long Island by better understanding the connections between energy and the environment.

 

 

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