2008-07-25 / Editorial/Opinion

A Promise Not Kept By The Parks Department

Each year, Adrian Benepe, the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, feeds the same line to Rockaway. "Wait until July 1 and you'll have enough lifeguards to staff all of the beaches we can open," he says. Once again, he has lied to Rockaway. It is the last week in July, and not all the beaches are open - not during the week, and not during the weekend. "Certain beaches are extremely well staffed for the privileged few, while other beaches in Rockaway are extremely underserved," says Jeanne DuPont, the director of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance. She is not alone. That is the impression of many Rockaway residents, particularly those in the east end of the peninsula. DuPont points out, for example, that there are hardly ever lifeguards from Beach 25 Street to Beach 38 Street, forcing residents who live in the area to walk long distances to find a beach that is guarded and therefore open. "If we have people in jeeps continually forcing us off the beach, what do we have a beach for. Why do we pay a premium to live in Rockaway," asked one correspondent who contacted The Wave with a complaint on a hot summer Friday. She says that she was on the beach at Beach 35 Street and was told by Park Enforcement Police that she had the option to go either to Beach 9 Street or Beach 60 Street if she wanted to take a dip in the ocean. That is unconscionable. Adrian Benepe told reporters that he had to put his lifeguards where the crowds were deepest. "Beach 116 Street is our busiest beach," he reportedly said. "We are going to keep our lifeguards at our busiest beaches." How does that jibe with the promise he made that all of our beaches would be manned once July came? Why must we keep accepting the city's lies and its disrespect? It is time for our city legislators to do something about the problem before the summer ends.

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