Lack Of Lifeguards Cuts Down On Queens Beach Fun
After trying to have a good time in the water at Queen’s Rockaway Beach Friday, Josey Miranda and her friends gave up and settled for hanging out on the sand. The problem was that the beach did not have enough lifeguards, and swimmers had to stay in limited areas.
“It’s frustrating because the water is crowded with all those kids. I was just kept getting kicked in there,” said Miranda.
Other Rockaway residents looking to let off some steam were also fuming over the fact that many of the bays were closed. They say even though they live right across from the beach, they have to walk several blocks to find a spot where a lifeguard is posted.
“As you can see, like over here is a lifeguard, and after that you have to walk like a mile to another place where you could find another lifeguard. So it’s kind of a long walk,” said a beachgoer.
Angry about the inconvenience, many decided to swim at their own risk, but were met with the sound of whistles from lifeguards.
There were also police and parks security telling swimmers to get out of unguarded water.
“Five security people walking around the beach to make sure that nobody can go into the water because there is no lifeguard. I’m thinking would it be more economical to pay a lifeguard to be here instead of five people,” said another beachgoer.
The Parks Department says the security is necessary to keep people safe because there aren’t enough lifeguards to go around at this point in the season.
“It’s always a little bit slow getting started, because you have to depend on when the kids are out of college to come work for us,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “But we already have over 400 lifeguards on the job all at the beaches.”
Benepe says the city has an average number of lifeguards, but the warmer-than-usual temperatures have more people flocking to the shores. The agency is hoping to increase its staff by the end of the month.
“We expect to have over 1,000 [lifeguards] by the time June ends and in time for the July 4th weekend,” said Benepe. “Last year, we had 1,100 lifeguards. If we can get to that number, or get beyond it, which we hope to do, we’ll have the best summer we’ve ever had.”
Many residents are hoping that is true, because they don’t want a lack of lifeguards to put a dampener on their summer at the beach.
- Ruschell Boone