Beach season officially kicks off in New York this weekend, but it’s about to be a bummer of a summer for residents and fans of one the city’s most popular waterfronts.
On Monday, the city’s Parks Department announced that a 12-block stretch of Rockaway Beach will be closed indefinitely due to erosion. The area between Beach 91st Street and Beach 102nd Street will be shut down in order to maintain a protective dune built in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which helps keep swimmers safe, the Parks Department said in a statement.
The full boardwalk and surfing area from Beach 88th Street to Beach 91st Street will remain open, as well as a section of the beach in front of the concessions and bathrooms at Beach 97th Street, but there will be no access to the water permitted at that location. The remaining 4.5 miles of the beachfront will still be open for swimming and recreation. The affected stretch is among the most popular in the Rockaways.
“This decision was made in the interest of safety, and that will always remain our top priority,” Parks and Recreation commissioner Mitchell Silver said in a statement. “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.”
This summer marks the second year that the new NYC Ferry is offering service to the Rockaways, which provides a trip between the peninsula and Wall Street in less than an hour. The Rockaway landing is positioned outside of the closed zone near Beach 108th Street, providing some relief to fans of the service.
The announcement drew the ire of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who said that this issue could have been avoided altogether.
“The community had long expressed its concerns about the vulnerable shoreline to the Parks Department for years,” she said in a statement following the announcement. “When the Army Corps last replaced 3.5 million cubic yards of sand on the Rockaway Beaches in 2014, the community repeatedly warned the city that without permanent protective measures, the sand would soon need to be replaced again. The consequences of the city’s failure to act earlier will be disproportionately borne by the Rockaway community.”
The Rockaways will no doubt still be a go-to attraction for New Yorkers this summer—it just turns out that it’s a bit smaller of an attraction than expected.
Editor's note: This closure does not affect Jacob Riis National Park.