Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mystery Grows As Department Of Health Prohibits Swimming In Rockaway Beach

Park Enforcement Patrol officers attempted to keep the public out of the water today in Rockaway Beach. Sources say the ocean will be closed to bathers tomorrow as well.   (Photos: NYC Park Advocates) Click  on images to enlarge. 


By Geoffrey Croft

Visitors to Rockaway Beach in Queens were prevented by the City from swimming today NYC Park Advocates has learned.

The Department of Health mysteriously shut down access to the water.

Lifeguards were pulled off the beach from 116th - 59th Street on Saturday and red flags were put up leaving tens of thousand of beach goers without access to the water on this warm day.

Parks Enforcement Patrol officers spent the day telling people to get out of the water  beginning at noon.

"Everyone is confused," said a Parks Enforcement Patrol officer on the scene.

"The public is upset and they are not telling us anything.  Off the record we are being told its because of construction -  they wanted it shut down. Something about a pipe."

Adding to the mystery, according to the Department of Health's website, "if a beach is closed to bathers,  or if there are advisories due to wet weather conditions or increased pollution levels,  up-to-date information" is supposed to be available on their website or by calling 311.

A Pipe Runs Through it.

No closures were listed today at Rockaway Beach.  The agency's website had the status of  the beach and water as open to the public.

Reached late this afternoon, a Department of Health spokesperson explained that the Army Corp of Engineers was moving equipment up and down the beach which presented a risk to the public.

However no such equipment could be seen.

"Why is the pubic being prevented from using the water but the beach is not shut down," replied an officer at the scene when told of the City's explanation.

"There is no equipment being moved, that's complete BS. This makes no sense.  If there was heavy equipment being moved up and down wouldn't the beach be closed. There is something else going on here that they are not telling us.  And now I was just told the same thing is happening tomorrow as well."

An empty lifeguard chair.

Angry residents planning on cooling off in the water sounded off. 

"People are still going in the water but there are no lifeguards and only a few officers," said Nelle Nazario, who lives across the street on 106th Street and was visiting the beach with her two-year-old grand daughter.

"Its dangerous for children and families," she continued. 

"There are no signs telling us that this is supposed to be closed. If someone drowns are the officers capable. There is a liability. " 

Peter Malcomson lives on Shorefront Parkway and 107th Street across the street from the beach was there with his two daughters.     

"How can the city not have lifeguards, why aren't they on duty" Mr. Malcomson said. 

"The beach and swimming should be open. They are not telling us anything."

Swimming and bathing permitted
Beach Sample Results for Enterococci Bacteria Count
(week ending)
30-Day Geometric Mean
Limit per EPA: 35
Single Day Results
Limit per EPA: 104

The Department of website states the beach and water are open to the public.

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