Todd Heisler/The New York Times The Silver Gull Beach Club in the Rockaways has been making repairs to damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to try to open by Memorial Day. But its opening has been threatened by a stop-work order.
In the 1984 film “The Flamingo Kid,” newly hired cabana boys at a beach club were made to jump off the end of a pier into the ocean below, as an initiation rite.
The film was shot at the Silver Gull Beach Club, a cluster of oceanfront cabanas in the Rockaways that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in October.
The club is unique in New York City, with double-decker rows of cabanas jutting out into the surf on piers. Roughly 200 of its 460 cabanas were damaged by the storm.
The club, which sits on federal seashore, began rebuilding soon after the hurricane, with club officials promising to open by Memorial Day.
But now, that timetable may be delayed by a federal stop-work order issued last week on the club’s main cluster of damaged cabanas, said Bob Ordan, the club’s general manager.
Federal officials visited the site and ordered construction stopped on Big Island, one of five piers bearing cabanas and jutting out over the water’s edge.
The pier, featured in the film, was the hardest hit area of the club, with damage to half of its 84 cabanas, Mr. Ordan said. The federal official, from the Gateway National Recreation Area, which administers the property, ordered work stopped, saying that Gateway officials had told the club months ago not to rebuild that pier because it was too vulnerable to more storm damage.
Mr. Ordan said he knew of no such order and he showed the official a letter that Gateway had sent the club in January recommending, but not forbidding, that the club not rebuild Big Island.
The Jan. 18 letter from Linda Canzanelli, superintendent of Gateway, which grants a concession to the club allowing it to operate, specified as “comments and recommendations” that the pier not be rebuilt. Rebuilding would be “not favored,” Ms. Canzanelli wrote, according to a copy of the letter Mr. Ordan showed to a reporter on Tuesday.
The club, just east of Breezy Point, is run by Ortega Family Enterprises, whose 10-year contract with Gateway – a National Park Service entity that includes 26,000 acres in New York and New Jersey – to run the club began with last summer’s season.
Mr. Ordan said the club did heed most of Gateway’s recommendations, including not rebuilding eight cabanas on the end of the Big Island pier that were destroyed. But since the club owners were investing their own money, they decided rebuilding the other cabanas on the pier was a risk worth taking, he said.
Gateway National Recreation Area officials had not responded yet to a request for comment.
The Ortega family estimates the rebuilding will cost $3 million, and has already spent $2 million, Mr. Ordan said.
“If you build near the water, there’s always some risk,” he said. “We’ve been working seven days a week, sunup to sundown, to make a private investment in public property.”
Unless the situation is resolved quickly, the club risks having its contractors leave the site, to begin work on other projects, he said.
“We’re on track to open by Memorial Day,’’ he said. “Another week or two, and that won’t be possible.”
Big Island has some of the most coveted cabanas, especially for members who are elderly or have physical disabilities, since it is the most easily accessible pier, he said. Some members have been renting cabanas on the pier for more than 30 years, and most Big Island cabanas are already rented for this summer, he said.
The club, which has a working-class clientele largely from Brooklyn, opened in 1963 and retains a classic look. But the place was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, which caused a significant amount of erosion and tore up the expansive concrete patio and the concrete sea wall that had stood for 50 years.
The two large steel pools survived, but were filled with sand and concrete. Water slides were jostled, and the kiddie pool was lost.
Mr. Ordan, 55, who began working at the club as a teenager as a lifeguard, looked at a huge pile of concrete rubble half the size of a football field, piled in the parking lot.
He said the club’s insurance policy did not cover flood damage, so it is still unclear how much of the rebuilding cost will be covered.
So far, $250,000 has been spent on Big Island alone, and the work is nearly finished on it, he said.
“It’s our risk,’’ Mr. Ordan said. “If it gets destroyed again next year, then it’s our money gone.”