By Jon Cronin, Editor
After a much maligned decision to close 11 blocks of beachfront three days before the Memorial Day weekend kicked off the summer beach season, the city’s Parks Department announced that it will reopen three blocks on June 30 and defer 50 percent of the rent for the summer.
“NYCParks will open a section of the currently closed beach, between 96th and 98th, to swimming on Saturday, June, 30,” a statement from the Parks Department read. “We know how much New Yorkers love the Rockaways, and found a way to make more of the beach available for summer fun.”
The Parks Department said that it is able to open the three blocks due to the protective dunes at those beaches, but noted that “safety is paramount,” and the agency be closely monitoring beachgoer usage and their cooperativeness with Parks’ on-site staff.
The agency is also working with concession stand management at Beach 97th Street, which was the most affected by the Beach 91st Street to 102nd Street closures. The agency has expanded amenities and put greeters at the entrances to direct beachgoers. The new amenities will feature an additional sunbathing area with space for such games as badminton and bocce, a temporary skate ramp, a misting/cooling station, a children’s play area and additional seating.
To aid the concession stand at Beach 97th Street, the Parks Department will allow an early start time for live music at 1 p.m. and arrange for bicycle rentals to be available at the ferry landing.
The Parks Department reiterated that the beaches were closed for safety reasons and the agency is continuing to work with the Army Corp of Engineers to come with a long-term solution to that section’s erosion problem.