While New York City beaches are opening for the season this weekend, an 11-block section of Rockaway Beach in Queens is not.
While New York City beaches are opening for the season this weekend, an 11-block section of Rockaway Beach in Queens is not due to safety concerns. (Getty)

A large portion of Rockaway Beach in Queens will be closed for the summer due to safety concerns, NYC Parks announced just days before Memorial Day weekend.

While 4.5 miles of Rockaway Beach will open as scheduled this weekend, the 11-block stretch between Beach 91st Street and Beach 102nd Street will be closed because of erosion and to maintain the post-Hurricane Sandy dune built to protect inland residents.

“This decision was made in the interest of safety, and that will always remain our top priority,” said Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver. “The rebirth of Rockaway Beach stands as a symbol of this community’s strength and determination to move forward after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, so having to close even just a small portion of it is very difficult for us.”

Silver added that NYC Parks and the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency and Recovery, will continue working with the U.S. Army Corps for a long-term fix to offset erosion and protect the coast.

 

In addition to the 4.5-mile stretch of Rockaway Beach that will remain open for swimming and recreation, the boardwalk and surfing area from Beach 88th Street to Beach 91st Street will be opened. A section of beach in front of the 97th Street concessions and bathrooms will be open for recreation, but there will have no water access. 

NYC Parks will have signage at subway stops, ferry landings and along the boardwalk to direct beachgoers to the closest accessible beach.

While Assistant Lifeguard Coordinator Javier Rodriguez agreed with NYC Parks’ decision to close the section of Rockaway Beach — saying, “there is just not enough beach in this section to be able to allow swimming in a safe manner, and we don’t want to have any lives put in unnecessary danger” — Queens Borough President Melinda Katz did not.

“This will significantly hurt the local community and Queens economy during the vital visitor season,” she said in a statement. “The closure of 12 blocks of the Rockaway Beaches is unacceptable, and the Rockaways deserves better.”

Katz added that the community had expressed concerns “about the vulnerable shoreline to the Parks Department for years,” even after the Army Corps last replaced 3.5 million cubic yards of sand on Rockaway Beach in 2014.

“The community repeatedly warned the city that without permanent protective measures, the sand would soon need to be replaced again,” she said. “The consequences of the city’s failure to act earlier will be disproportionately borne by the Rockaway community.”
 

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