South Benson Marina became an unwelcome port in the storm for Tropical Storm Irene last summer, knocking the municipal marina's boat ramp landings off their footings.

With the help of a mild winter, Department of Public Works crews spent the past several months constructing new wooden landings at the town garage that were recently installed, just in time for the marina's Saturday opening for the season.

Public Works Director Richard White said the town got about $10,000 from FEMA to reset the old landings.

"The project grew when we tried to set the landings back in place and saw that they were so badly rotted, it made sense to reconstruct new ones that will last 30-plus years," White said.

Rick Sastre, a building maintenance employee for the town who worked on the project, said they couldn't find anyone who knew when the original landings had been built.

"They were in bad shape," he said. "It's kind of a mystery, because we don't really know how long they've been here."

Police Officer Grant Dalling, one of the local marine officers, said the rehabilitation project has been needed a long time.

"The craftsmanship is super," Dalling said of the new landings. "April 15 is our opening day and they got it done. We've got some very talented individuals who work for the town."

Sastre said the town has been patching the landings for years. There are 10 landings in total, and the replacement project began in February.

White said it cost about $32,000 for the lumber and $28,000 for the new pilings to support the landings. Another $9,000 was spent on electrical work.

"We saved about $25,000 by doing it in-house," White said, of the design and labor costs.

South Benson Marina has slips for 630 boats, from 14 to 36 feet long. Slips are available for permanent Fairfield residents, though there is a waiting list. Slip rentals range from $519 to $1,556 per season, with an additional $106 fee for those slips at docks that have electricity.

White said slip rentals bring in revenue of about $500,000 per year. In recent years, he said, the annual revenues have exceeded all expenses by at least $60,000.; 203-556-2771;