City Has Forgotten About Areas Of Rockaway Beach
Concerned residents in the Rockaways say they’re struggling through yet another summer on a beach that they believe the city has forgottenDuring a blistering heat wave in New York City, there were only a few dozen people scattered along a stretch of Rockaway Beach. Locals say the boardwalk is to blame, with its loose boards, holes, exposed nails, and weak railings.
Jeanne Dupont, who lives nearby, said she is fed up.
“Look around,” she said, “It’s very sad.”
She said although the boardwalk stretching from about Beach 20th Street through the 50s is an eyesore, it’s not a priority for the city.
“It’s not that it’s neglected, it’s that it’s been forgotten in many cases,” said Dupont. “City planning has done very, very little to try and really recognize the people or concerns for the people who live in this area.”
Dupont organized her neighbors and formed the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, a group of volunteers who say they are fed up with the conditions here and are determined to make waves until something is done.
“You come up here, you’re scared you might trip,” said Rockaway Waterfront Alliance member Carol Johnson. “There are holes.”
“The boardwalks have been left just to deteriorate,” said fellow member Les Paultre.
“It’s totally neglected and people have a tough time even to cross the boardwalk here to go to the beach,” said Ehud Hazan, a third member.
Another issue: lifeguards. Residents say there are not enough to cover Beach Street in the 20s and 30s.
“It’s very hard to get lifeguards,” said local resident Richard George. “We have to fight to get lifeguards here. We can’t go in the water; they have park attendants chase us out of the water if there’s no lifeguards, and some of them have chased people off the public beach.”
And further west, on Beach 56th, residents of a housing complex called Ocean Village don’t have access to the ocean at all – since the area is federally zoned for endangered birds.
“I don’t like it at all because we live right here and we should have access to it,” said an Ocean Village resident.
But less than a mile down the boardwalk, in the 90s and 100s, it’s a totally different scene, with full access to the shore. The boardwalk is in near-perfect condition, there are plenty of lifeguards, outdoor activities and even a regular police presence.
Jeanne Dupont said the difference is like night and day.
“Unfortunately there are sections of the Rockaways that are much wealthier and much more affluent and have many more services and programs,” said Dupont. “It’s hard to see because many of the communities that don’t have those resources have been virtually forgotten.”
However, city officials say the area has not been forgotten, and they are working to shore up Rockaway Beach.
- Cheryl Wills