There was some outrage last month when — just before the start of beach season — the NYC Parks Department made a surprise announcement that a popular stretch of Rockaway Beach would be off-limits to swimming (and, uh, walking) for the summer. The closure, due to beach erosion, spanned 11 blocks from Beach 91st Street to Beach 102nd Street; Parks explained it was necessary "in order to maintain the protective dune and keep swimmers safe." But now they've announced they will reopen the area from Beach 96th to Beach 98th — this specific area is home to food vendors, who had not been given a heads up about the beach closure.
According to amNewYork, Parks will not only reopen that two-block stretch, but they will "give concession owners a 50 percent rent break for the summer... and agreed to allow them to start live music earlier at 1 p.m." Additionally, Parks spokesperson Crystal Howard told Gothamist they have "agreed to expand amenities to the areas east and west of the B97 building." Those include:
- An additional sunbathing area that includes space for games such as badminton and bocce
- A temporary skate ramp
- Misting/Cooling Stations
- Additional seating
- Children’s sand play area
Howard said in order to reverse the decision to close this stretch, the lifeguards had to be "comfortable that they can keep people safe," and now, "everyone believes this is feasible." However, operating hours of the beach will fluctuate based on high tide, and there may be days when it’s not feasible to open based on conditions. (Open times will be posted.)
This stretch of beach will reopen on June 30th. There are currently no plans to open the other closed sections; they were able to reopen this section because there isn’t a protective dune there.
Beach erosion has been an issue in the area for years, and upon the closure announcement last month, Councilman Eric Ulrich declared, "This is an insult to the thousands of residents who have been tirelessly fighting for sand on our beaches. It has been more than five years after Superstorm Sandy, and parts of the Rockaways are still recovering. It is a disgrace that the Parks Department would rather ignore the problem than work to address the needs of this community."
The Parks Department will continue to work with Army Corps on a long-term erosion solution in Rockaway.