2010-09-24 / Editorial/Opinion
Increase Access To The Bay And Ocean
Rockaway is a peninsula, surrounded by water on three sides. To the south, there’s the Atlantic Ocean. To the north, lies Jamaica Bay. Those two bodies of water have always been important to Rockaway and, to many residents, the ocean and the beach are what drew them to the peninsula in the first place. Despite that, Rockaway residents have very restricted recreational access to the beach and the boardwalk and little or no access to the bay. Think about it. The beach communities to the east and west – Long Beach and Coney Island, have far fewer restrictive regulations than Rockaway. The beer commercial that shows two contented lovers having their favorite brew as the sun goes down over the ocean would get you arrested in Rockaway. People can actually ride their bikes all the time on the Long Beach boardwalk. They can surf anywhere. They can walk their dogs. They can use the boardwalk into the late hours of the night. Not in Rockaway. Go to Coney Island. You will see people drinking beer on the beach, riding bikes on the boardwalk until the late hours of the night. Not in Rockaway. New homeowners were surprised to find the beaches in front of their homes closed, their nighttime walks on the boardwalk restricted. On the bayside, there is a marina in Fort Tilden, a boat launch near Beach Channel High School, another marina on Beach 60 Street and then a kayak launch in Bayswater. There is no other public bay access anywhere on the peninsula. It is time to change that. We need public access to the bay from Bayswater to Neponsit. The city should start by building some boat launching facilities near Beach 108 Street or Beach 116 Street. There should be a public pier along the bayfront. There should be a ferry terminal built in the center of the peninsula. For years, Rockaway has been told that the land along the bay is wetlands and cannot be disturbed for man to recreate. There has to be some real balance between the very-real ecological concerns of environmentalists and those who want to increase water-related recreation on the ocean and the bay.