NPS Highlighted Projects of 2016

Last edited 09/05/2019

Resilient $40 million repair and replacement of Ellis Island HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems completed in 2016

Sandy’s storm surge inundated Ellis Island and flooded the basement of the main building, destroying much of the island’s electrical and mechanical infrastructure. A $40 million program to rebuild structures and systems was designed to locate critical infrastructure three feet above the 100-year flood stage, exceeding FEMA guidelines. 

In the Powerhouse, a new mezzanine level was constructed to keep replacement boilers and chillers above the flood line. Electrical switchgear and panels were relocated to upper floors in the Powerhouse and Main Immigration Building. Ductwork was installed with insulation on the outside where it can easily be replaced if damaged. Since moving the new air handlers to upper floors would have affected the historic appearance of the Main Immigration Building, they were installed in the basement. 

All essential plumbing, fire protection, mechanical, electrical, and fire alarm building services are now protected in line with FEMA and NPS guidelines.

For more information, contact: Jerry Willis,, (646) 356-2105

Management Plan Developed for Wilderness Breach

Hurricane Sandy created a breach through the Fire Island National Seashore wilderness area – a breach that remains open to tidal exchange between the Atlantic Ocean and Great South Bay. Breach and overwash events during storms are natural processes important to maintaining the long-term sustainability and resilience of barrier islands. Breaches also bring ocean waters into the bay and several ongoing studies, conducted in cooperation with research partners, are dedicated to understanding the ecological responses of the bay ecosystem. 

Research funded through Hurricane Sandy relief aid has supported the development of Draft Fire Island Wilderness Breach Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement. The plan evaluates alternatives for managing the wilderness breach and will be released in the coming weeks for a 45-day public review and comment period.

For more information, contact: Kaetlyn Jackson,, 631-687-4770

Repairing the Breach at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge’s West Pond

Construction work will begin this month on an approximately $8.7 million project to repair the breach at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge’s West Pond and improve habitat conditions. The construction phase of the project is expected to last nine months, with a proposed break during nesting season. 

During this time, the breach will be repaired, habitat conditions will be improved, and the path around the West Pond will be restored.

For more information, contact: Daphne Yun,, 718-354-4602 

Working with the Federal Highway Administration to Restore Access to Fire Island Facilities

Since Hurricane Sandy struck in October 2012, five recovery projects have been completed in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration to restore safe access to Fire Island National Seashore facilities. A more than $2 million dredge project, completed in 2015, restored navigation channels to the seashore’s Sailors Haven and Watch Hill marinas. The elevation of an entrance road, upgrade of the 45-slip Sailors Haven Marina, and construction of a 340-foot dock at the Fire Island Lighthouse was also completed in 2015 with FHWA funding. The $5.4 million Watch Hill Marina project is the sixth such project and is funded in part by FHWA and NPS. 

Plans call for a new elevated electrical building to be constructed and for the existing conduit, conductors, and pedestals to be replaced. A new bulkhead will be built and composite lumber will be installed over a strengthened substructure on adjacent boardwalks, making the marina more resilient to future storms.

For more information, contact: James Dunphy,, 631-687-4756

Rebuilding with an Eye on Sustainability on Fire Island

Some structures destroyed by Hurricane sandy allowed for the NPS to rebuild with an eye on sustainability. Roughly 8,800 feet of boardwalk were lost at NPS sites on Fire Island National Seashore during the storm and, where possible, boardwalks paths were rerouted nearer to the barrier island’s interior to avoid potential damage during future storms. An 800-foot portion of a walk from the seashore’s Sailors Haven facility to nearby Fire Island community, Cherry Grove, was constructed south of its original location, making it less prone to bayside erosion. A 1,000-foot portion of a boardwalk entrance to the seashore’s federally designated wilderness area was also strategically replaced to prevent future storm damage.

For more information, contact: James Dunphy,, 631-687-4756

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