Fire Island Pines

The Fire Island Pines, west of Water Island and east of Cherry Grove, is the most beautiful community on Fire Island. Its developers took care to preserve the area's natural heritage by careful planning.

Topographically, the Pines is virtually an extension of Sunken Forest. Situated on a narrow portion of the island, the area closer to the bay is covered with dense growth almost concealing many of the homes built unobtrusively in the background. Lacing through the Pines are its most famous features, "rollercoaster" boardwalks wending their way up, down and across the community in a pattern made to follow the land.

Originally the site of a Coast Guard station built in 1876 and known as Lone Hill Saving Station, the area was purchased by the Home Guardian Company in 1924 but little in the way of development occurred until after World War II. There was no electricity or amenities until 1960 when a 100 unit co-op complex was built. Builders stuck close to the cautious plans drawn up a quarter century before and allowed for preservation of the area's natural state.

The results are readily apparent today: houses are modern, sleek, and stylish and blend in well with the surrounding terrain. With more than 700 homes, the Pines is not crowded for its size, large building lots helping to mitigate crowding., The careful integration of land and architecture has bequeathed a community that is modern, spacious and esthetically pleasing. The Pines has been discovered by leaders in fashion, design, photography and the arts and rapidly became established as the center of island chic, taste and elegance. The social whirl in the Pines ends with the onset of Fall. With over 600 members, the Fire Island Pines Property Owners Association (FIPPOA) sponsors major events which raise needed funds for the community: art shows, auctions and raffles, movies, house tours, and several theater productions featuring local talent. The Pines Community house, rehabilitated through the work of FIPPOA, is headquarters for the village doctor, library, post office, religious services, movies and art shows. The Pines Conservation Society, charged with beautifying the community, as well as strengthening the dunes through fencing and planting, stages perhaps the most famous of the town's fests, the annual Pines Fashion Show at which designers and models parade their dazzling creations for sale to the highest bidder.

Dining and nightlife center around the Pines and Dunes Yacht Club and The Cultured elephant, both owned by former model John Whyte, or the restaurant at the Pavilion, which also features disco dancing. Several other bars and small restaurants selling things such as ice cream and pizza, a gourmet food store, a liquor store, hardware and clothing boutiques round out the extensive services. Many residents obtain a change of pace and scene by hopping one of the water taxis which shuttle between the Pines and next door Cherry Grove. The Pines Boatel boats three levels of guest rooms and a pool.

The swimming pool is perhaps the best symbol of the ubiquitous wealth of the Pines; over two thirds of all the private pools on Fire Island may be found here. Real estate is the most expensive on the island and on any given day a handsome fleet of yachts may be seen docked at the community's long, man-made harbor with an 85 slip reservations are made one year in advance, and there is a seaplane landing marina.

Like Cherry Grove, the Pines is predominantly gay, though not as demonstrably. It offers enough space and diversity to suit all comers, residents and visitors alike, to this most extraordinary island community. Ferry from Sayville.

Jerry Hatfield

The author is director of a public service advertising program. He carries his social concern into the Pines, holding offices in the community's various cooperative organizations.

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