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‘Massapequa Port’ Was Too Costly for Congress

On Sept. 24, 1906, a large group of property owners, commerce and industry people and local interested residents gathered for a meeting at the Massapequa Hotel. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss organizing a Board of Trade in Massapequa. The main objective of the meeting was the widening and deepening of the Massapequa River that flows from the Massapequa Lake to the Great South Bay, which is parallel to present day Ocean Avenue.

The announced meeting attracted the New York City press. On Sept. 25,1906, in The Evening World, it was reported that an election of officers for the Board of Trade was held, with local businessman Andrew J. Corsa, elected as president. The other elected officials were George Stanton Floyd-Jones, first vice president; Thomas Snedeker, second vice president; George F. Haight, third vice president; Alfred W. Seamon, secretary and S.J.V. Oddle, treasurer. An executive committee was also chosen that included William Rohr, Thomas H. Fraser, Theodore William, Dr. D. Dekremen and Joseph Dowd.

According to the published article, the newly organized group and hopefully with the help of Congressman Cox of Nassau County, would put forth a request to have the United States Government dredge a sea channel from the Jones Beach inlet through the Great South Bay and the Great Island Channel to Merrick Road. Business owners believed that a seaport in Massapequa would provide the south shore of Long Island an important shipping and docking port. Also in the article, it was pointed out that most residents at the meeting and living in surrounding villages were enthusiastic about the building of this great waterway. In addition to creating a new industry for Massapequa, it would give a tremendous impetus to the development of the area and other nearby towns, enabling ocean-going vessels to bring lumber and other building materials and supplies direct from the mills and plants in the south. The newly organized Board of Trade pointed out that the savings to area residents on materials, as well as on coal and like commodities would be considerable.

However, my grandfather, Herman C. Meyer, told me that the seaport idea wasn’t favored by everybody, especially the property owners who had their residences along the river. The owners of the Massapequa Hotel, along with the riverfront homeowners, had complaints that the port would hinder their hotel business and in turn, would affect the entire business community, besides being an eyesore. Opposition speakers at the meeting were thinking long term. They envisioned a view of storage buildings of all sizes built along the river’s edge and the stacked piles of materials along the river bank that would detract in a huge way from the area’s peaceful countryside and waterfronts.

A few weeks later, on a Friday night, the Board of Trade held another meeting that was open to the public in the Assembly Room in the Massapequa Hotel. That meeting was also attended by several local people of importance and Congressman Cox. The congressman explained to the group that he had had conversations with his colleagues, who agreed the plan was the right one for the area; however, the cost of such a project would not be economical and would be derailed at the coming session in Washington. Andrew J. Corsa accepted the motion by the full Board of Trade membership to table the project until such time as the plan may be brought up at another Board of Trade meeting for discussion.

During the building boom in the 1940s and ’50s, the river that was once a tranquil, calm, flowing wide stream, was dredged by developers and builders. This enabled canals to be built and when the plots of land sold for building homes, they became valuable waterfront properties. Up until that time, the only peaceful sounds that could be heard down at the shore were from a flock of ducks on the water or a fisherman rowing his way out to the bay for a day of fishing. Present day sounds are from luxury pleasure motorboats or jet skiers heading to the bay for a day on the water.