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Four-Wheel-Drivers Lament; Outer Beach Opening in Jeopardy

The Suffolk County Parks Department is monitoring the outer beaches after Superstorm Sandy devastated much of the shoreline.

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For thousands of Suffolk County residents, packing up their four-wheel-drive vehicle and heading to one of Suffolk County's outer beaches makes for a perfect summer day. But with Hurricane Sandy devastating some of the beaches, driving on any one of the six area outer beaches may be a thing of the past.

A decision to open the 17 miles of outer beaches is pending and most likely won't come until the winter is over, according to the Suffolk County Parks Department, which recently released its 2013 outer-beach permit fee schedule for outer beaches, including Cupsogue in Westhampton Beach; Smith Point in Mastic Beach; Charles Altenkirch in Hampton Bays; Shinnecock East in Southampton; Cedar Point in East Hampton; and Montauk County Park.

"The department is continually evaluating the conditions of all beaches as we are still in the midst of the storm season. No determinations have been made at this point about what beaches or portions thereof may or may not open," said Emily R. Lauri, the community relations director for the Suffolk County Parks Department.

According to Lauri, the parks department is continuously monitoring the beaches and taking measures to shore them up, especially beaches that were significantly damaged by Sandy, including Cupsogue and Smith Point, which were both breached during the superstorm.

The Cupsogue and Smith Point breaches were filled in with the assistance of the Army Corps of Engineers and Lori said snow fencing has been installed at Smith Point. In addition, she said 3,000 Christmas trees have been laid along the beach front to help stabilize the dune.

The trees, she said, were donated by Home Depot and area fire departments.

If any of the beaches are closed in the summer, the parks department stands to loose thousands of dollars in permit revenue.

In 2012, the parks department issued 11,500 outer beach permits, which equated to $88,000.

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