2003-07-04 / Front Page

‘Take Back The Beach’ Rally Set For July 9

By Tommy Hallissey
‘Take Back The Beach’ Rally Set For July 9 By Tommy Hallissey

Beach bums, surfers, fishermen and all those who enjoy a moonlight stroll along the boardwalk have been urged, by local rabble-rouser Lew M. Simon, to join in a "rally to take back the beach and boardwalk."

The ever-present rain clouds last summer were not thick enough to hide the ticket blitz on Rockaway beaches by local cops.

Summones were issued for infractions as trivial as leaving a blanket unattended on the beach.

The crackdown had as much potential to dampen this summer season as the habitual rains. No sitting on the beach after 9 p.m.; No walking on the boardwalk after 10 p.m.; No Dogs on the beach; No Bikes on the boardwalk from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; No Fishing; No Surfing; No smiling on a cloudy day. That last one is a joke.

In a June 6 editorial, Howard Schwach, Wave managing editor, outlined residents’ grievances against the city’s ticketing policy, and challenged the local democratic district leader to take action. "Where is Lew Simon and his trusty bullhorn when you need them?," said Schwach. "Here is your chance to get arrested again."

Simon wasted no time heeding the call the following week in his column Simon Says… "If you are fed up like we are with the fact we cannot even walk on our boardwalk in the late evening and enjoy the beautiful fresh air of Rockaway beaches, if you are fed up with the idea that if you come home from work after 6 p.m. after a hot day’s work you won’t be allowed to take a dip in the water, join us." The Democratic District Leader scheduled a rally for Wednesday, July 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Beach 116 Street and the Boardwalk. Simon said he hopes that thousands of people will assembly on the beach to protest the laws that he calls "very much antiquated."

Simon has even suggested that Rockaway has been unfairly targeted by police. "Why should we be off the beach at 9 p.m. and the boardwalk at 10 p.m., when Central Park is open until 1 a.m.," said Simon.

City Councilman Joe Addabbo, the chair of the Parks Committee, supports a change in the beach rules, but said that in order to change the law he would need to hear from a greater consensus of constituents. Thus far, Addabbo’s office has received nearly 170 phone calls about the beach rules. Addabbo said he would need between 1,000 and 1,500 phone calls or signatures to effect a change. "I don’t represent the loudest people, but all the people," said Addabbo.

In late May, red and white signs were posted around Rockaway that specified the ‘Beach Rules.’ "These rules are not new rules, they have been in effect for years," said Addabbo. "These are new park signs." The rules are not in place to detract from the culture of Rockaway, said Addabbo. "Whatever you have done in the past, do it," he said. "Let me know if you are approached by the police."

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