2002-08-17 / Letters

No Lifeguards Past Labor Day…

No Lifeguards Past Labor Day...

Dear Editor;

As a life-long Rockaway resident, surfer and former lifeguard, it saddens me to see the recent rash of drownings on our beaches. However, the City' s reaction to it upsets me even more. Most of the drownings have occurred off hours at the shore of Deb's inlet, an area known for strong tidal currents and sharp drop-offs. The City' s reaction, no doubt inspired by their legal "experts," is to ticket anyone in the water off hours.

Surfers, who are for the most part locals with expert knowledge of the waters off our shores, could actually be helpful in preventing drownings, and have done so many times before. There is, however, a solution that many "old-timers" may recall. Years ago, lifeguards worked flex hours with shifts starting from 9 a.m. until as late as 1 p.m. This gave the beaches lifeguard coverage from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Currently, all lifeguards work 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. only. I even recall working as late as 10 or 11 p.m. on hot, steamy summer nights when no one left the beach before 9 p.m.

The lifeguards are gone after Labor Day. It is not uncommon for the beaches to be crowded (with locals) for several weeks after Labor Day. If the City intends to summons everyone on the beach or in the water after Labor Day, this could cause a real problem. I would hate to see that happen.


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