Parks Declares Beaches Open
“This is a four year capital project, and we did it in five months,” said Parks Commissioner Veronica White at the ceremony at Beach 86th Street. She added, “We’re going to rebuild the boardwalk and we’re going to rebuild protection.”
The concrete ‘boardwalk’ island includes a renovated concession building, stadium style seats acting as steps leading to the beach, a new lifeguard station and a restroom.
White said the Army Corps of Engineers will be “bringing millions of cubic yards of sand to the Rockaways starting next month and there’ll be more throughout the summer and more in September. It’s coming here for protection for our communities.”
Small Business commissioner Robert Walsh helped obtain a grant that brought in 1000 workers to clean the beaches after October’s storm. He promised to work to help merchants form a Beach 116th Street Merchant’s Association. In addition, he said that a workforce office would open in Far Rockaway “in the next 30 days.”
Community Board 14 district manager Jonathan Gaska, held up a highlighter – the same color as the concession stand – and jokingly said he brought it along for Parks to use if the building got any chips in it. Then he got serious when he used a phase from last year’s opening – renaissance of the Rockaways.
“We have a long way to go – jetties, dunes, base-elevations, seawalls,” said Gaska. “But today we’re going to celebrate the new renaissance of the Rockaways. We want people to come out, go to the beach and spend money at our stores.”
“Seven months ago I saw it – neighbor helping neighbor, community helping community – and that’s what brought us here today. Because as Rockaway, we were strong,” said Goldfeder.
Demanding the immediate rebuilding of Rockaway’s boardwalk, to act as a protection in future storms, the Friends of Rockaway Beach held a low-key protest during the opening.
Mayor Bloomberg opted to open the beach at Coney Island rather than Rockaway.