2004-09-03 / Front Page

Lifeguards Gone, Beaches Closed At End Of Season

Red flag on lifeguard chair denotes closed beach. Many residents were angered about closed beaches on the last hot weekend of the summer.

Red flag on lifeguard chair denotes closed beach. Many residents were angered about closed beaches on the last hot weekend of the summer. The Beach season closes officially on September 6, but many Rockaway residents, trying to get in some beach time after a rainy summer, found that their local beaches were closed on the last weekend in August.

Parks Department sources say that the closed beaches were due to a large number of lifeguards who have gone back to school for the September semester.

“This happens every season at the end of the year,” said Liam Kavanagh, the department’s Deputy Commissioner for Operations. “Some lifeguards have to leave early to go back to school and we don’t have people to replace them.”

“Usually, at this time of year it’s cool and not exactly beach weather,” Kavanagh added. “This year, the weather has been nice.”

The beach blocks that were closed stretched throughout the peninsula. They included Beach 22, Beach 24, Beach 61, Beach 77, Beach 78, Beach 80, Beach 82, Beach 110, Beach 112, Beach 113, Beach 125 and Beach 127 Streets.

Some of those beaches are the most heavily-used on the peninsula, critics of the closing argued.

The beaches from Beach 73 Street west to Beach 108 Street front the large Dayton houses, high-rises with many elderly residents and families who traditionally use the beaches on weekends. Beach 125 Street and Beach 127 Street flank the end of the boardwalk at Beach 126 Street and are used by people seeking to get away from the crowds at Beach 116 Street.

Kavanagh says that the department’s redeployment strategy when beaches must be closed focuses on keeping those beaches where facilities are available open during the shortage.

“We focus on facilities where we have bathrooms and concessions, and heavily-used subway stops,” he told reporters.

Both Kavanagh and City Councilman Joseph Addabbo, who sits on the council’s parks committee, hope that many of those lifeguards will be back for the Labor Day weekend and will report for work.

“We’re hoping to get a good number back for this closing weekend so we can have as many beaches open as we can,” Kavanagh said.

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