MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The Swan Cove project took its first major step toward fruition last week when construction crews descended upon the site along South Lake Boulevard and removed eight dilapidated bungalows to make way for a lakefront park and an adjacent municipal parking lot.

The town purchased the 0.64 acres of land for $1 million in March from developer Frank Cotaj as part of what officials say is a renaissance of the downtown business area. Swan Cove, they said, is the last remaining parcel of land on Lake Mahopac that can be used for public access. 

Councilman Mike Barile, who spearheaded the project and owned the property before selling it to Cotaj several years ago, promised that the demolition of the bungalows would come at little or no cost to the taxpayer and he seems to have backed up the pledge.

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The razing of the bungalows brought some bittersweet synergy to the Swan Cove project. The Ferrieri family, which owns Cricket Construction, donated their equipment, labor, gas and materials to the tear-down as a way of giving thanks to the community for the support it has given to them during a recent tragedy.

On May 21, brothers Raymond, 24, and Jesse Ferrieri, 21, went missing while bear hunting in Idaho. The SUV in which they were riding left the road and crashed into the Selway River. Two hunters were able to escape the vehicle and swim safely to shore. However, the Ferrieri brothers were never accounted for, while the bodies of the two hunting guides, who were also in the vehicle, were recovered about two weeks ago.

The Mahopac community embraced the family and supported them throughout the ordeal and Ray Ferrieri Sr. said donating the work at Swan Cove is part of his family’s way of saying thank you.

“We have been in town a long time; we go back to the 1800s,” Ferrieri Sr. said, as his son, Ray Jr., operated a backhoe in the distance. “Everybody has been amazing, and this is the least we can to do to say thank you.”

Ferrieri said he thinks the new park will be a great addition to the town.

“It’s going to be awesome,” he said. “It will give the public some access to the lake.”

Also donating their efforts to project were Mike’s Blue Wheels Service, which provided a Dumpster truck to remove the debris, as well as Tommy Bonillo of LynLil Associates, who helped with the loading and crushing.

Barile said if the equipment and labor hadn’t been donated, the razing of the bungalows would have cost between $75,000 and $100,000.

Barile said once the bungalows are completely removed and the ground is clear, the town plans to use millings created from the recent Route 6 repaving project in the hamlet of Carmel. Millings are created when the old asphalt is removed and ground up and made ready for recycling.

“They will spread that around [the area where the bungalows once were] and let it lie dormant for a while,” Barile said.

Barile said the town will meet with a professional designer over the next few weeks and a rendering of the park and neighboring parking lot should be ready in about 60 days.

Barile noted that for a government operation, the Swan Cove project is moving at a fairly good clip.

“But it’s still not fast enough for me,” he said. “Since I took this [council seat], I am always amazed how slow government is.”