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Shirley: Just minutes from the ocean

Shirley residents enjoy South Shore beaches and a National Wildlife Refuge. But life isn’t so quiet anymore.

When Shirley residents want to cool off on a hot day, they drive just a few minutes south on the William Floyd parkway to Smith Point County Park, part of the Fire Island National Seashore. Many locals cite the park, with its pristine ocean beaches, as the main attraction in Shirley.

This is the case for Joe Mancuso, 28, who has worked here since he was a teenager. He says, however, that there has been significant beach erosion over the last 15 years. “When I was a kid, you had to go, like, 500 feet to get to the water” from the parking lot, he says. “Now it’s more like 50.”

Lifelong Shirley resident Lori Newberry, 33, also likes living next to the South Shore beaches but, nonetheless, she would like to move out of Shirley. She says traffic congestion has worsened, especially along Montauk Highway and William Floyd Parkway, and the number of fast-food restaurants has grown. But she cites several pluses to living here, including the addition of a large dog park on Montauk Highway and bike lanes on William Floyd Parkway.

Fact file

»Walk on the wild side at the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Long Island Pine Barrens in Shirley (360 Smith Road). Observe white-tailed deer, osprey, muskrat and other wildlife as you hike, canoe or fish at this 2,550-acre refuge that is bisected by the Carmans River. Construction of a new visitor center that will include interactive exhibits is expected to be completed this fall.

To contribute photographs for a planned mosaic at the center, visit the Web site: http://www.fws.gov/northeast/longislandrefuges/Wertheim.html.

» Take in some rays at Smith Point County Park, Suffolk County’s largest oceanfront park, on Fire Island. Besides surfing, scuba diving and taking part in other ocean sports, visitors can hook up their RVs at the adjoining campground. To get to here, take the William Floyd Parkway to its most southern end, Fire Island. Camp facility reservations required 631-244-7275.

»Put on some pounds at the little MommyLou’s Cheesecake shack (399 Neighborhood Road) in nearby Mastic. While there, check out next door neighbor Paul’s Shoe & Cycle Repair, where you can get both your high-heels and your bike tires fixed.

 
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