2002-08-03 / Editorial/Opinion

Perhaps the Rules Need Changing

Perhaps the Rules Need Changing

Most of the attention in the recent flurry of "C" summonses that have been given out on our beaches has focused on the local police precinct and its involvement in "cracking down" on those who use the beach "improperly." While we believe that a little discretion on the part of police officers that patrol our beach and boardwalk would go a long way, we also believe that it is time to take a look at the rules that govern the use of the beach as well. The Little Green Book that is simply called, "Rules and Regulations," runs for 48 pages. The bureaucrats who wrote the rules did so during the Giuliani administration with only one goal in mind – to control the city’s parks and to limit the city’s liability should an accident occur. The rule that ruins the enjoyment of many Rockaway residents is a simple one: "No person shall fail to comply with or obey any instruction, direction, regulation, warning or prohibition, written or printed, displayed or appearing on any park sign, except that such sign may be disregarded upon order by a police officer or designated Department employee." Those who surf when there is no lifeguard on duty, those who walk on the beach after the beach is officially closed, those who ride a bike on the boardwalk during daylight hours, those who flycast from the jetties, all of those people fail to obey the signs posted by the Parks Department and are therefore eligible for a C summons, returnable in court. Perhaps it is time to change the rules to allow for specific surfing beaches, where those who surf can assume the risk rather than the city. Perhaps we need to change the rules about legal behavior in parks after designated hours. Perhaps we can designate specific beaches where fishing is allowed. City Councilman Joe Addabbo is the chair of the council’s Parks Committee. Perhaps it is time for that committee and for the new Parks Commissioner, Adrian Benepe, to rewrite the rules that do not criminalize otherwise legal (and enjoyable) behavior.

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