Outlook For Open Beaches… ‘Better Than Last Year’
Outlook For Open Beaches…
‘Better Than Last Year’
By Howard Schwach
While the Mayor has announced that all of the city’s beaches are open and safe for use, many of our Rockaway beaches remain closed and will probably remain so until a full compliment of lifeguards comes on board around July 1, according to Joe Bonkowski, the Parks Department supervisor who runs Rockaway’s seven and a half miles of beach.
Bonkowski told The Wave that Rockaway has more lifeguards at this point than we did last year, but that we are still short of what we need to fully staff our beaches.
"Last year, on Memorial Day, we had 145 lifeguards working in Rockaway. This year, we have 150," Bonkowski says, adding, "we should have full staffing by July 1, when students and teachers are available for the rest of the summer."
Until at least July 1, the beaches that are open during the week include: Beach 9 to Beach 20, Beach 57 to Beach 61, Beach 75 to Beach 109, Beach 114 to Beach 135 and Beach 140 to Beach 149. All other beaches are closed during the week.
On the weekend, the lineup changes slightly. Those beaches open on the weekends include: Beach 9 to Beach 25, Beach 57 to Beach 61, Beach 75 to Beach 109 and Beach 114 to Beach 149. All other beaches are closed during the weekend period.
There are various reasons why residents cannot use those beaches that are closed. Some of the beaches are closed because there are not enough lifeguards to staff them, particularly during the week.
The beaches between Beach 46 and Beach 56 Street are closed by the Federal Government because there are piping plover nests on those beaches and plovers are a "endangered species" that is protected by law.
The beaches between Beach 29 and Beach 40 Street are closed because there is literally no beach there, according to Bonkowski.
"Despite the fact that sand was put onto those beaches last year, the water comes up to the boardwalk in that area," he says.
Even when fully staffed, Bonkowski points out, those beaches will remain closed.
Many other beaches in the area of the Arverne Urban Renewal Area are closed as well because nobody lives along that stretch.
Bonkowski urges everybody to be careful when swimming in Rockaway’s surf.
"Ocean beaches are treacherous," he says. "Nobody should be in the water on a beach were there is no lifeguard on duty."
New signs in English and in Spanish (a Russian version is in the works) warn swimmers that ocean beaches can be dangerous, with strong tides and drop-offs.