No endless summer for Water Taxi Beach

No endless summer for Water Taxi Beach
Water Taxi Beach’s Long Island City location has been closed by the city Economic Development Corporation, which said it needs the spot for stormwater overflow. Photo by Rebecca Henely
By Rebecca Henely

It’s been named one of the top party beaches in the world by a major magazine and was featured in a popular reality TV show, but employees at Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City are nevertheless preparing not to open this summer or for any future summers.

“We feel very proud of what we’ve done and we appreciate everybody who helped make it something special,” said Tom Fox, founder of Water Taxi Beach.

The company, which operates man-made beaches accessible via water taxi, has locations at South Street Seaport, Governors Island and Long Island City near 54-34 2nd St. Fox said in a letter posted on the company’s website that the land the Long Island City location occupies is required for a stormwater overflow system into the East River for the planned Hunters Point South development. While the company asked the landlord, the city Economic Development Corp., to find a site to relocate Water Taxi Beach, one could not be found.

Andy Towler, manager of the Long Island City site who has been working at the beach in numerous capacities since it opened in 2005, said he was disappointed but not surprised by the decision.

“We always knew that we were on borrowed time,” he said. “We were lucky to have had the six years that we had.”

Fox said 250,000 people visited the Long Island City location during that time. It hosted officials such as Borough President Helen Marshall and events like the NYC Food Film Festival. The hotspot also received accolades from New York magazine, which voted it the best place in the city to pretend you are in Miami in 2006, and The Manchester Guardian listed it among an article titled “10 top beaches for partying” in 2008.

“The beach has been touted from Australia to Brazil as a place to go when you come to New York,” Fox said.

Towler said there was much he loved about working at Water Taxi Beach, but the most interesting moment was when the reality TV show “Top Chef” visited the beach in the show’s eighth season.

“It was unlike anything I had seen before,” Towler said of the filming.

With the close of the beach, Towler said about 40 to 50 of the beach’s seasonal employees will be out of work. Towler said he has another job, but has hopes to continue to work this summer at either Governors Island or South Street Seaport. He said the company is also trying to relocate its seasonal employees to the other spots.

“We’re going to do our best to get as many as we can over to the other locations,” he said.

Despite the forced farewell, Fox said he takes comfort in Hunters Point South’s plans to have a beach along the water and is hoping Water Taxi Beach will be able to come back to Long Island City and operate it.

“So apparently whatever we did was right,” Fox said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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