2008-05-30 / Editorial/Opinion

Rockaway is A Beach Community

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his friends wander around a city park with a glass of wine in their hands and everybody says, "bad, bad," and laughs at the sight. Concert-goers attending a gala in Brooklyn's Prospect Park guzzle glasses of wine and everybody winks and nods at the rule that you can't have alcohol in a city park. Let one person with a cooler of beer hit the boardwalk, however, and the cops quickly write a summons. Walk on the Coney Island boardwalk after a Cyclone's game at 11 p.m., and you'll see people dancing on the boardwalk, drinking on the beach, sitting around bonfires. Walk on the beach or on the Rockaway boardwalk at 11 p.m. and you're likely to get a summons. Don't have identification? Then, you're going to get arrested. What's the difference between the beach and boardwalk at Coney Island and the same ones in Rockaway? Parks Department officials will tell you that Coney Island is an amusement area and therefore certain activities are allowed that are not allowed at Rockaway, which has been declared a "residential area" by the department. How about the drinking? Well, it's perfectly all right to drink within moderation at other city parks for certain events, but not at Rockaway, which is dangerous because of the ocean. How about drinking at Coney Island? Well, that's a recreation area, so the department looks the other way a little bit, as long as it does not get out of hand. How about parking? At Coney Island, on-street parking is allowed wherever possible. At the end of last summer, a Wave editor was told by a cop on traffic duty near Nathan's that it was all right to park at an illegal curbside parking spot as long as it wasn't for a long period of time. It gave the editor a chance to grab some hotdogs and fries before moving on to the Cyclone's game. That would never happen in Rockaway It is understood that Coney Island is a beach recreation area. In Rockaway, however, parking is over-enforced and the draconian parking rules keep the public from using a public beach. On the face of it, those policies are not only ridiculous, they are discriminatory. Rockaway is, after all, a beach community and we should not be treated as second-class citizens nor should we be treated differently from any other park area in the city.

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