2004-06-25 / Front Page

Critical Lifeguard Shortage Closes Many Rockaway BeachesOnly 300 of Necessary 1,200 on Duty Now

By Howard Schwach

Critical Lifeguard Shortage Closes Many Rockaway BeachesOnly 300 of Necessary 1,200 on Duty Now


The beach at Beach 124 Street was closed on Wednesday, forcing residents to walk two beaches to find an open facility.The beach at Beach 124 Street was closed on Wednesday, forcing residents to walk two beaches to find an open facility.

By Howard Schwach

A critical shortage of lifeguards that will reportedly continue into early July, has forced the closing of many Rockaway beaches and caused the ire of local residents to rise along with the temperature.

According to City Councilman Joseph Addabbo, who sits on the council’s Parks Committee, only 300 of the 1,200 lifeguards required to cover the city’s beaches and pools are now working. Addabbo cites problems with "paperwork and training" as the reasons for the shortage, stating that the beaches should be fully manned and opened by the July 4 weekend.

Addabbo’s office has reportedly been inundated with calls from local residents complaining about the closed beaches as well as a wave of tickets that have been generated by the restrictive beach rules.

Under those rules, anybody walking or sitting on a closed beach is guilty of violating park administrative rules and liable for a ticket.

Experts say that many prospective lifeguards are not available for duty until early July because of school commitments and because they must first commence training when school ends.

Addabbo says that the first beaches to be reopened will be those that front large population areas such as apartment buildings and condominiums.

Many of the complaints registered since Memorial Day come from Dayton Towers and the boardwalk buildings nearby Beach 116 Street, whose residents found their beaches constantly closed during the week.


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