Insult to Injury for Fire Island’s Cherry Grove

     CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CN) — While restoring shorelines after Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. government shafted a gay mecca on Long Island’s Fire Island, a dozen waterfront homeowners claim in a federal complaint.
     Fire Island, located on the south shore of Long Island, has for years been known to New Yorkers and globetrotters alike as a summertime gay getaway. It was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, a storm that killed more than 200 people worldwide in 2012.
     The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was supposed to reconstruct shoreline dunes for 17 communities on the island as part of a post-Sandy-relief deal hammered out with New York and Suffolk County, but only one of those communities is still waiting for relief.
     The three couples and six singles who filed suit Monday all own homes on the water in Cherry Grove.
     They say because of Cherry Grove’s reputation as a gay enclave, Uncle Sam left it in the lurch.
     “Cherry Grove is internationally recognized as the first openly LGBT community in the United States,” the complaint states.
     The homeowners contend that “there is no rational technical basis for the omission of Cherry Grove” from the FIMI project, short for Fire Island Inslet to Moriches Inlet Fire Island Stabilization Beach Restoration.”
     Such claims are being made during gay-pride month, sandwiched between the nation’s largest pride march in New York City and the Independence Day weekend.
     Cherry Grove remains the only portion of the 19-mile designated area still waiting for restoration of its dune needed to mitigate coastal erosion and tidal inundation.
     Because the feds skipped them over, the plaintiffs say they “are clearly being treated in a discriminatory fashion as compared to other similarly-situated Fire Island property owners.”
     The 22-page complaint says they were “uniquely excluded” and “treated in a different and discriminatory manner” than other neighborhoods on Fire Island.
     Hurricane Sandy ripped across the Atlantic seaboard in October 2012.
     Joseph Anania is the lead plaintiff, joined by James Anning, William Buschmann, Michael Fisher, Nancy Haskell, Gerodette MacWhinnie, Keith Marran, Michael McPherson, Roland Michely, Gary Sacks, Roberta Terzo and Sara Widdicombe.
     They are represented by Jonathan Sinnreich with Sinnreich Kosakoff & Messina.
     Named as defendants are the United States; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the commander of the Corps’ New York district, Col. David Caldwell; Suffolk County; and Gilbert Anderson, the county’s commissioner of public works.
     The Justice Department refused to comment on behalf of the government defendants.

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