City Closes Beach Due to "Safety Concerns"

I am adamantly opposed to the City’s plan to close part of our beach right before Memorial Day Weekend—the unofficial start of summer.
— Assemblywoman Stacey Prefer Amato

On May 21, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver announced that due to “safety concerns,” the beach from Beach 91st Street to Beach 102nd Street will be closed for the summer.

Assemblywoman Stacey Prefer Amato released a statement on Twitter following the announcement.

“I am adamantly opposed to the City’s plan to close part of our beach right before Memorial Day Weekend—the unofficial start of summer,” she wrote. “Not only will this significantly hurt our local communities and residents but will hinder our economy. We have been demanding sand and resiliency measure for our beaches for years—and this is how the city reacts by closing 12 blocks of the beach? That’s not a solution.”

“Safety is always our first priority, and with serious erosion limiting the recreation area in this section, the lifeguard’s ability to do their jobs of keeping the beachgoers safe has been impeded,” explained Silver at the beach opening on Friday, May 25.

Local officials have been communicating with Parks and Silver about the issue of beach erosion since the reopening of the boardwalk on May 27, 2017. The Wave asked Parks about beach erosion following the event, to which the city released a press release that stated, “The completion of the Rockaway Boardwalk complements many other resiliency measures already in place and underway, such as 4.2 million cubic yards of new sand placed on city beaches in Coney Island and the Rockaway Peninsula.”

At a Town Hall meeting in December 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to recommend that the U.S, Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) accelerate its plans (the long-awaited Rockaway Reformulation Plan, which will add rock jetties and groins), to initiate much-needed renovations to mitigate ongoing beach erosion. U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer has also written to USACE to demand a hard deadline, but there has yet to be a timeline released for completion.

The Wave reports that Parks has alluded to putting on more events during the summer in order to make up for the possible loss of revenue the beach closings could bring. On Sunday, May 27, locals protested the closing of the beach, calling on Sen. Schumer and investors to take action in getting the beach fixed in a timely manner. 

“We’ve known about the erosion for years. It has been five years since Hurricane Sandy and we know what has to be done," said Councilman Eric Ulrich to CBS News. "We need jettys. We need rock groynes. We need all the protective measures to keep the people of this community safe."