Rockaway Beach councilwoman vows to ‘keep pushing’ for full ocean access amid ongoing resilience construction

Rockaway Beach
Councilwoman Joann Ariola met with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager Dan Falt to see if a compromise on beach access could be found during ongoing coastal resilience construction. Photo courtesy of Ariola’s office)

NYC Parks revealed its plan for the closures along Rockaway Beach this summer due to the ongoing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) coastal resiliency construction project to address severe erosion and flooding.

According to Parks officials, there will be no access from Beach 92nd Street to Beach 95th Street when the summer swimming season gets underway on Memorial Day weekend through to July 15. Access along Beach 109th Street through Beach 111th Street will also be closed off to the public until July 15, when the closure is extended to Beach 112th Street through September.

“We realize these temporary closures are challenging, but it is simply not safe to allow swimming in this area while the Army Corps construction operations are active,” NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue said in a statement. “In the meantime, we want beachgoers to be able to enjoy the sun, surf and sand along much of the shorefront this summer.”

Rockaway Beach
The USACE continues work on the $336 million Atlantic Shorefront Resiliency Project that will require beach closures by NYC Parks. (QNS/File)

Hours before NYC Parks announced its beach closure plan, Councilwoman Joann Ariola met with USACE project manager Dan Falt on the Rockaway Beach boardwalk to see if there was a way for construction to continue while keeping beachgoers safe.

“The USACE has done work like this before, and they’ve already told us that they can work on alternative timeframes and schedules to make the beach available for both swimmers and sunbathers,” Ariola said Friday morning. “If the USACE can be flexible in their hours of operation so that lifeguards can get on the beach and ensure that people can swim safely, then that is what we should be doing.”

In its plan, NYC Parks emphasized that the entirety of the Rockaway boardwalk will remain open throughout the summer months providing access to the concession stands that are considered vital for the economy all along the Rockaway Peninsula.

Rockaway Beach
NYC Parks emphasizes the concessions along the Rockaway boardwalk will remain open throughout the summer but Ariola vowed to “keep pushing”until there is full ocean access for beachgoers. (QNS/File)

“When people come to the beach on a hot summer day, they want to go in the ocean and cool off,” Ariola said. “That’s the main draw of the beach, after all. The access to the sand near the concessions is a great step in the right direction, but we will keep pushing until we can get full ocean access for our beachgoers as well — especially in the important commercial areas near our concessions.”

Beachgoers looking for updated project information and ongoing service changes can visit the NYC Parks dedicated website.

“The plan, as it stands right now, is unacceptable, and we have to have a clear picture of what’s going to happen in the areas around our businesses,” Ariola said. “We are going to continue to work with elected officials at the city, state and federal levels to get the Parks Department to amend their plans and ensure that Rockaway’s beaches — especially those beaches nearest the concessions — can stay open all summer long.”

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