2006-09-15 / Community

Board Calls For Council Oversight On Lifeguard Issues

By Brian Magoolaghan

After years of lifeguard shortages and outrage over a failed recruitment and training program, Community Board 14 is calling for City Council oversight hearings on a list of lifeguarding-related issues.

Members of CB14 voted unanimously Tuesday night for "the Parks Committee of the New York City Council [to] hold a public hearing in Rockaway to address the issues of mismanagement, harassment, recruitment, qualifications, training and testing of lifeguards."

The board will forward the request to Bronx Council Member Helen D. Foster, the chairperson of the council's Parks and Recreation Committee, and City Council Joseph Addabbo, who is sits on that committee.

Jill Weber, Rockaway's new administrator for the Department of Parks and Recreation, did not comment directly on the issue but said Parks higher-ups, including First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh, have been keeping up to date with the board member's concerns.

The call for council oversight comes after the board's Parks and Public Safety and an ad hoc Lifeguard/Beach Issues Committee met August 29 at the Beach Club to discuss a satellite lifeguard recruitment/training program that some say failed because the lifeguard union is against decentralization of its own, longstanding process.

In an update to the board, committee chairperson Dan Mundy said "outrage over the mismanagement in the recruitment, training and testing of candidates" and the affect it has on beach safety has become the committee's focus.

CB14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska said he was hopeful that the council's hearings would make Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Department of Parks and Recreation see the need for a "fair process" in lifeguard recruitment and training, with the goal of "getting the best lifeguards on the beach."

The joint committee met on September 8 and will share a complete list of recommendations with the board at the next monthly meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, October 10, 7:45 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus on Beach 90 Street.

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