Addabbo Proposes Access Changes
The rules that govern the beach and boardwalk were the major topic of discussion at a meeting held last Monday by Councilman Joe Addabbo, a meeting designed to "kick off my reelection campaign and see what the residents of Rockaway see as their major problems."
Addabbo quickly found that their major problem, and all they wanted to talk about, particularly at the beginning of the summer season was the Department of Parks and Recreation and the rules they have set for beach access and use.
This is Rockaway Beach," one resident fairly yelled at Addabbo. "People can use Central Park in Manhattan until 1 a.m. Why do we have to be off the boardwalk by 10 p.m.?"
In response to the complaints, Addabbo told The Wave on Tuesday that he would be willing to push for extended hours on both the beach and the boardwalk if "there is a consensus among Rockaway residents that the new hours are what they want."
Addabbo proposes that the boardwalk be open until 1 a.m. each day with the beach being open, albeit not for swimming or surfing, until midnight.
"People who are interested in the change and who want to see it happen should call my office," Addabbo said. "If there is a consensus on this question, then we will go ahead and propose the changes to the city."
Addabbo said that he may also call for a community forum on the beach and boardwalk rules at a future Community Board 14 meeting.
"Before anything is done, I have to make sure that is what the community really wants," Addabbo added.
Present at the Monday night meeting were Captain Charles Talamo, the commanding officer of the 100 Precinct and Liam Kavanagh, the Deputy Commissioner for Operations of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
Kavanagh said that there would be no "blitz" of tickets on the beach and boardwalk this summer.
When asked by a Wave editor whether he meant that the rules that were just posted would not be enforced, he said, "The rules will be appropriately enforced."
Talamo was asked by a resident why his nephew, visiting from Hawaii, got a ticket for walking his dog on the boardwalk, watching the waves break on the shore, he was shown the sign that said "No dogs on beach." When Talamo was reminded that the dog-walker was on the boardwalk, he reportedly told the resident, "The beach and the boardwalk are the same thing."
Talamo urged the resident to look at the signs at the foot of each walkway to the beach, signs that say there are no dogs allowed on the beach or boardwalk. Those signs, however, contradict the new red and white signs that were recently posted that say nothing of the boardwalk, but restrict dogs on the beach to winter months.
Deputy Commissioner Kavanagh also seemed confused about the rules in at least one case.
He was asked why he and his department could not simply allow a number of beaches to be declared surfing beaches only.
"New York State law does not permit us to do that," Kavanagh said.
When it was pointed out to him that Title 10 of the New York State Health Code allows such designations, he said that he "had never heard of that."
"We just met with the state and they never mentioned that," he said.
In fact, Section 6.2-16(d) says, "No boating, water skiing or surfboarding shall be permitted in the swimming and bathing area. Separate areas for the above activities may be designated by floating lines and buoys."
When that section of the state law was read to Kavanagh by a Wave editor the next morning, the operations head said, "I never heard of that section of the law. I will have to check with my legal department on that."
Many of the 150 residents who attended the meeting, expecting to listen to Addabbo answer questions and address issues, were surprised when Addabbo set the agenda for the meeting, which had him moving from table to table, speaking with small groups and individuals. A number of residents who wanted to have a say left the Beach Club without doing so because they could not wait for Addabbo to get to their table.
"This was never meant as a town meeting," an Addabbo spokesperson said. "This was a kickoff to his reelection campaign and he wanted to speak to individuals in a coffee klatch mode to find out what they perceived were their problems."
There was some talk at the end of the meeting of Kavanagh and his department "modifying some of the boardwalk hours to allow for more access.
Even that did not satisfy some of the residents at the meeting.
"I come home from Manhattan at about 7 p.m.," an angry resident who asked not to be identified said. "If it is a hot day, I want to take a quick dip in the ocean and then sit on the beach for a while after dinner."
"You’re not letting me do that," he added.