2004-01-16 / Editorial/Opinion

Passing The Buck On Beach Issues

Passing The Buck On Beach Issues

Politicians love to pass the buck, to point out that somebody other than themselves is responsible for some transgression of the public good. That is the case with the seminal beach access problem that Rockaway faced for the past two beach seasons and will probably face in the summer to come. Actually, there are two separate issues at play. The first is the issue of access hours, the time that people can use the beach and boardwalk. That is strictly a city issue and it could be changed with a stroke of the pen by the city’s Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, Adrian Benepe. You’ll remember Benepe. He’s the one that said that Rockaway’s beaches were too dangerous for the normal activities allowed at all the other city parks. City Councilman Joe Addabbo, the chair of the council’s Parks Committee, says that he is working with Benepe to increase the hours that residents can use the beach and boardwalk. Of course, those talks have been ongoing for almost two years to no avail, so we don’t dare expect that this summer will be any different from last, except for the fact that NYPD Captain Charles Talamo, who many believe enforced the draconian beach rules with the zeal of a Torquemada, has gone to another precinct. The rules stand, however. Off the beach by 9 p.m. Off the boardwalk by 10 p.m. Those are ridiculous rules for any beach community, and Addabbo must work with Benepe to change them. The other issue, whether to allow surfing and fishing, is more complicated. The state clearly allows municipalities such as New York City to set areas for those activities. The city, however, inundated by law suits, wants the state to make the Sanitary Laws (which control the beach rules) clearer, specifically giving the city permission to set up separate, surf at your own risk, areas. The state has been working on changing the law for more than a year. It is time for our Assemblymembers, Audrey Pheffer and Michelle Titus, to get it done. They will obviously need the help of State Senator Malcolm Smith, if he is back from his junket to India in time to provide help. It is time for all of our legislators, both city and state, to stop passing the buck to each other and to get the deal done. Our beaches are Rockaway’s most important natural resource. We can’t take a third summer of being knocked around for making use of that resource.

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