2012-05-11 / Top Stories

Pols Say Parks Not Replacing Pivotal Fence

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and New York City Councilman Eric Ulrich sent a letter to the New York City Department of Parks expressing their displeasure about the decision not to replace the fence on the beach at Beach 149 Street in Neponsit that was destroyed in recent storms.

“For over a half century this fence has acted as a barrier between beaches operated by the National Parks Service and New York City Parks Department,” Goldfeder said. “The decision not to replace it was made by the Parks Department without any community consultation and it is clear that there was very little thought given to the impact it would have on the safety and well being of the local community.”

Traditionally, the beaches on the eastern side of the fence have fostered a family friendly atmosphere while the western beaches in the Jacob Riis Park have catered to more adult and mature beachgoers.

“My office has reached out to the Parks Department regarding the fence replacement on several occasions,” Councilman Ulrich said. “Ultimately, the parks department decided not to replace the fence, without any consideration for the hardworking homeowners of the Neponsit community and that is unacceptable. I strongly urge the parks department to reconsider their misguided decision.”

“The fence on the jetty at 149th Street has been in place for about a century. The Parks Department has maintained the fence since the city took over the beach in 1939 and we expect that they will continue to properly take care of repairing it since it is their job,” said Peter Sammon of the Neponsit Property Owners Association. “We object to the way that they are trying to avoid doing what is expected of them. Our association spent over $20,000 last year maintaining park department property in our community and we deserve that they take care of what they are responsible for in a timely manner before the season starts.”

“This unilateral decision by the parks department will have a severe impact on the safety and quality of life for families and children that use the beach east of Beach 149th Street,” said Jonathan Gaska, District Manager of Community Board 14 in Rockaway.

“The fence has been there for so many years, just put it back up,” said Danny Ruscillo, community activist and president of the 100th Precinct Community Council. “One side is federal property and the other is city property; there are many other issues of greater importance to address in Rockaway, if it has to do with the cost maybe city and federal should split the cost.”

The criminal problems that could arise without a fence present, as the barrier has served as a clear indicator for both policing agencies to identify jurisdiction and enforcement. In addition, the National Park police stated that the absence of a fence could cause confusion in jurisdiction and lax enforcement, leading to increased crime, Assemblyman Goldfeder added.

“With a record number of attendees expected at the beach this year, now is not the time to ignore this serious issue,” Goldfeder said. “With summer quickly approaching, it’s important that the fence is repaired to make sure everyone can enjoy our beaches this season.”

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