City announces beach closures in the Rockaways will continue this summer without impacting the boardwalk

Beach resilience construction in the Rockaways will continue through the summer but on a smaller scale that will not affect the boardwalk concessions. (Courtesy of Mayor’s office)

The city announced that beach closures in the Rockaways will continue throughout the summer season, but it will be contained to a much smaller area than last year and will not impact concessions on the boardwalk, according to the city’s Parks Department.

NYC Parks and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) revealed that more than 70 blocks of oceanfront will be open to swimming seven days a week this season, but operations on the $336 million Atlantic Shorefront Resilience Project will temporarily close off beach access for 10-15 blocks from Beach 116th Street to Beach 143rd Street. Councilwoman Joann Ariola and NYC Parks administrator Eric Peterson briefed civic leaders on the upcoming summer plans at the Rockaway YMCA on Beach 73rd Street on Tuesday morning.

“It’s good to see that there will not be a total closure of the beaches in question this year, and I will be working closely with the USACE throughout the season to make sure the rolling closures keep to the planned timeline,” Councilwoman Ariola said. “We will also be working with the Parks Department to make sure that our beaches are adequately staffed with lifeguards, and we’re working on an advertising campaign in conjunction with the ferry and with Parks to attract even more clientele for local businesses.”

Councilwoman Joann Ariola briefs the Rockaway Beach community on the summer swim season. (Courtesy of Ariola’s office)

Construction will resume on Memorial Day weekend, but the closures will be rolling; over the summer the work zones, open beaches and beach access will shift as the necessary work progresses while the entire Rockaway Boardwalk will remain open to visitors.

“The community is a crucial partner of the city as we work to protect the Rockaway peninsula from climate change, future storms and long-term erosion,” said Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Kizzy Charles-Guzman. “The temporary beach closures that are necessary this summer will help to protect this frontline community, and bring us a safer and more resilient beach that all New Yorkers can enjoy.”

Rockaway Boardwalk.(QNS/File)

Launched in 2020 and scheduled through 2026, USACE’s work is responsive to decades of calls to address severe erosion and flooding from coastal storms, which has been exacerbated by climate change, at one of New York City’s most popular beaches. The project consists of 14 new stone groin structures, the rehabilitation of five existing groins, the construction of a reinforced dune system, and sand renourishment on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Rockaway Peninsula. Stone groins are rock structures that extend out into the ocean that will trap sand and reduce beach erosion. They will support sand accumulation, allowing for wider beaches, less erosion and better protection from storms when complete.

“There is no question the Rockaways have been severely impacted by coastal storms and intense erosion over the years and the improvements we’re making as part of our ongoing Coastal Storm Risk Reduction Project will go a long way toward reducing risk to these communities from future storms,” USACE New York District Commander Colonel Matthew Luzzatto said. “I continue to be impressed and thankful for the tremendous work done by my team and our partners, especially NYC Parks, as we continue to work diligently at reducing coastal storm risk for the residents of the Rockaways.”

NYC Parks beaches open for the 2023 season on Saturday, May 27, and will remain open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“Rockaway Beach is a vibrant, much-loved summertime destination for residents and tourists alike, and we’re proud that this summer much of the beach will be open while this necessary resiliency work continues,” NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue said. “I thank our partners at the Army Corps of Engineers for their expediency and ongoing diligence throughout this far-reaching coastal protection project, and I am looking forward to a wonderful Rockaway beach season this year.”

Beachgoers looking for updated project information and ongoing service changes can visit the NYC Parks dedicated webpage, which will be updated ahead of the Memorial Day opening.

Visitors are directed not to swim in red-flagged areas.

Belvy Kline and Aaron Broudo, the owners of Rockaway Bazaar, which operates the boardwalk concessions said they were pleased with NYC Parks announcement that more than 70 blocks will be open for swimming.

“The Rockaway Beach concessions at Beach 97th, Beach 106th and Beach 86th Streets will be open all summer 7 days a week, weather permitting, beginning Memorial Day weekend,” they said, adding that Beach 97th is already open on weekends featuring Seany Slices wood-fired pizza and Sand Shark Bar serving adult beverages. Rockaway Clam Bar returns for weekends beginning April 22. The full 7 days-a-week vendor lineup returns on Memorial Day weekend along with a free concert series every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Beach 97th Street.

Ariola is much more optimistic about the upcoming summer swim season than she was last year when widespread beach closures were announced just three weeks before Memorial Day weekend.

“This summer has every hope of being one of the best in years for local businesses and residents and as long as city agencies go along with the plans they’ve promised, 2023 should be an excellent year for Rockaway.”