Some Rockaway Waters OK For Jet Skis
By Howard Schwach
When the National Park Service (NPS) placed a ban on all personal watercraft in waters within the jurisdiction of its parks, the initial announcement of the ban indicated that it included all of Jamaica Bay.
Further research on the part of local boaters and environmentalists has proven that is not true.
In fact much of the immediate bay shoreline of Rockaway is under the jurisdiction of New York City and not the NPS.
According to information provided to The Wave by Brian Feeney, a spokesperson for the park, "Along the northern shore of the Rockaway peninsula, from Beach 146 Street on the west to the Nassau County line in the east, there is a corridor of water that belongs to the city."
That corridor, according to local sources, is from 100 to 300 feet wide, depending on the location (see map, this page). That source also told The Wave that the boat ramp at Beach Channel High School, a facility used to launch many boats and personal watercraft, is considered to be in that corridor and that it is legal to launch personal watercraft from that site.
According to the map provided by the NPS, the waters surrounding Broad Channel that are south of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, are also under the control of New York City.
Feeney, however, says that the corridor along the Rockaway bayfront is not really adequate for jet skis.
"I don’t think that the section of the bay along Rockaway is wide enough for all the people who use the personal watercraft," he says.
"We are strictly enforcing the ban in the parts of the bay that we control," he added.
The NPS has ordered Gateway to conduct of study of the impact of personal watercraft on the bay, one of the seven national parks in the nation given that option. Feeney says that the study will be completed at the end of the summer.
Following the study will come a period of public comment, including a series of community meetings on the subject.
"There may well be future accommodation for personal watercraft in those parts of Jamaica Bay where they are now restricted," Feeney says.
No public hearings have yet been scheduled.