Photo via Dan DeLuca on Flickr
Just days before New York City beaches were scheduled to open for the season, officials announced this week that a half-mile stretch of popular Rockaway beach will be closed this summer. The shuttered area spans roughly 11 blocks between Beach 91st and Beach 102nd Streets, considered by some to be the center of the beach. The city closed the section of the beach, previously set to open Saturday, because of safety issues from erosion, the New York Times reported. That particular area of the beach may be closed for many years because there “just isn’t enough space to operate the beach” according to Liam Kavanagh, the first deputy commissioner for the city’s parks department.
Last year, the city conducted a $200,000 study to analyze the impact of erosion on the Rockaway shoreline. While results showed clear erosion, the study found the dunes were actually wider “than at almost any time in the last 100 years,” according to the Times. The city did not feel the need to act.
The wider dunes came after the Army Corps replenished the beaches with 3.5 million cubic yards of sand in 2014 as an effort to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. But city officials said after the multitude of winter storms that hit the coast this year, the Rockaways experienced heavy erosion, ultimately changing the results of the study that found the beachfront safe.
Residents and local officials of the Rockaways are not thrilled with the city’s last-minute closure, and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz called it “unacceptable.”
“The city’s immediate plans for the Rockaways will significantly hurt the local community and Queens economy during the vital visitor season of the summer months, and shortchange one of the largest tourist attractions in the city,” Katz told amNY in a statement. “The Rockaways deserve better.”
Instead of wearing bright bathing suits and laying out patterned towels, residents and merchants plan on wearing black Friday and holding a funeral to mourn the beach closure, amNY reported. While the 11-block section will be an inconvenience, sunbathers and swimmers can find solace at the 4.5 miles of Rockaway beach that are still open, as well as the full boardwalk between Beach 88th and Beach 91st Street.
And while the Rockaway beach closure is a bummer, New York City has miles of sandy shoreline to visit this summer. Check out our list of the seven best beaches in the city here.
[Via NY Times]
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