2009-07-03 / Front Page

Lifeguard Recruitment Rises

By Nicholas Briano

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has seen an increase in lifeguard recruitment this year, which will hopefully lead to more lifeguards on Rockaway's beaches and fewer closed sections of shoreline.

An increase in lifeguard recruitment this year could lead to fewer red flags on area beaches, like the one seen here that indicates a particular section of beach is closed. An increase in lifeguard recruitment this year could lead to fewer red flags on area beaches, like the one seen here that indicates a particular section of beach is closed. According to Parks officials, for first-year lifeguards, 514 out of 1,402 candidates passed the initial qualifying test this year, compared to 397 of 1,108 last year.

"We are happy to report that we've had a great response to this year's lifeguard recruitment campaign," Parks representative Meghan Lalor said. "While many of these candidates are still in training, some are already working at City beaches, and more will join them each week as their training concludes."

It is still unclear whether Parks will exceed last year's lifeguard total of 1,148, but she added that about 75 percent of lifeguards return the following year. The preferred number of lifeguards to keep all beaches and pools open city-wide is 1,200.

If 75 percent of last year's lifeguard's return and all 514 pass through training, Parks would have approximately 1,375 on staff, far exceeding the 1,200 Parks Department goal.

Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska isn't surprised recruitment is up this year.

"We had expected to get more lifeguard recruits this year because of the economy," he said. "We were hoping more people would be willing to take the job."

But he added, not until July 4 can the Community Board accurately tell whether or not they will be receiving more lifeguards than previous years.

Regardless of recruitment, there are specific stretches of beach closed to beachgoers permanently for Piping Plover nesting.

According to Parks, the Piping Plover habitat runs from Beach 38 Street to Beach 56 Street. Additionally, there are two other nesting locations in the Beach 60s which will reopen as soon as the birds fly away, which, they anticipate will be by July 4.

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