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Photo by Salvatore Licata
Photo by Salvatore Licata
As of June 19, only 29 of the more than 100 beaches in the Rocakaways are open to swimming.

SALVATORE LICATA

Just because a beach is open doesn’t mean people are allowed to swim there.

As of Thursday, only 29 of the more than 100 beaches in the Rockaways are open to swimming because of damage caused by Superstorm Sandy coupled with a dearth of lifeguards, the Parks Department said.

Many of the others have “normal access,” which, according to the Parks Department, means people are allowed to walk in the sand.

“Swimming is only permitted where there are lifeguards, which is never the entire seven mile beach,” said Zachary Feder, a Parks Department spokesman. “But walking is permitted along the entire length.”

Superstorm Sandy caused major damage to the beaches along Rockaway, which now has the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers working to repair many of them. They are using large pipes to pump sand from the ocean floor on to certain beaches which makes those specific locations closed to swimming.

“More beaches will open as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes their sand replenishment and grading work,” Feder said. “We cannot allow swimming where the Corps is working. As the Corps finishes a section, that area will reopen for swimming.”

Feder also said another reason why many beaches are still closed to swimming is because the number of lifeguards has not reached its full potential for the year yet. He said lifeguard staffing does not reach its peak until July 4, which is when the volume of beachgoers is at its highest and the lifeguards, many of whom are students, are able to work for the summer.

But locals were upset that swimming was off-limits for most of the shoreline.

“Beaches being closed to swimming not only impacts our recreational life but it cripples the businesses that thrive on people going to beaches,” said Phillip McManus, a Rockaway resident and avid beachgoer, “We need a government that will listen to the people and need our beaches open for swimming now.”

Here is a list of the Rockaway beaches that are open to swimming as of June 19, as stated on the Parks Department website:

Beaches 9, 13, 15, 17, 18
Beaches  29-30
Beaches 115-119
Beaches 120-129
Beaches 131-137

 

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