2001-05-26 / Front Page

Lifeguard Shortage Right At Hand

Lifeguard Shortage Right At Hand

By Howard Schwach

With the opening of the beach season only days away, the Department of Parks has announced that it has hired only 400 of the 1,000 lifeguards it needs to patrol the city’s beaches and pools this summer.

That will reportedly keep "large portions of the Rockaway beaches closed again this year," according to Queens Parks Commissioner Richard Murphy.

"We are working with the Borough President and with the community board to decide which beaches will be closed," he added.

Murphy says that it is much harder to find lifeguards for Rockaway’s beaches than it is for the city’s pools.

"The Rockaway beaches are considered surfing beaches," he said. "You really have to be an excellent lifeguard to patrol that beach and the qualifications are much higher for those lifeguards."

Murphy did promise, however that there would be more lifeguards on the beaches after July 1, when "college students and teachers" become available.

Parks officials added that one stretch of been in Edgemere will be closed because of nesting Piping Plovers on the site. The Plovers are a protected species and there are 12 nesting pairs in the Beach 35 Street area.

Announcements on which beaches will be closed will be made as soon as possible, officials promised, but lifeguard experts told "The Wave" that it is difficult to close contiguous beaches because that creates a situation where there is no backup for lifeguards that run into trouble.

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