By David Brand
Good news for beachgoers — and local businesses: An eroded stretch of Rockaway Beach is set to re-open in time for summer.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an agreement Monday between the city and federal government to replenish a strip of sand between Beach 92nd Street and Beach 103rd Street that the city abruptly closed days before beaches were scheduled to open last Memorial Day Weekend.
As part of the plan, the city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will use dredged sand to restore the beach, de Blasio said.
“Rockaway Beach defines summer in New York City,” de Blasio said. “Reopening this beach means a lot to this community and families all over the city. We’ve worked months with the Army Corps and our federal partners on a solution to get it done.”
Local Councilmember Eric Ulrich praised the plan to restore and re-open the beach.
"I am pleased the Mayor has heeded our call for additional sand on Rockaway Beach. Residents and local business owners suffered because of last year's beach closure,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich. “While I am relieved the city is taking these important steps to protect our coastal communities, other areas of the beach remain vulnerable. The city must continuously replenish sand throughout the Rockaway Peninsula while we wait for the ACOE resiliency projects to begin."
The initial decision to close the beach last year prompted protests from local residents and business-owners whose livelihoods depend on summer traffic.
In June 2018, Steve Costello, the director of operations at The Lobster Joint, told the Eagle he was bitter — even after the city opened two blocks between Beach 96th Street and Beach 98th Street.
“We feel we were bamboozled,” Costello said at the time. “I already had contacts signed, expenses paid—and suddenly they’re telling me, ‘Oh, your beach is closed.’”
Though the businesses around the beach stayed open, the city’s announcement diverted many potential visitors to Coney Island and other area beaches.
Parks spokesperson Crystal Howard told the Eagle in June 2018 that the City “considered every conceivable way to keep the beach open.”
“Ultimately it had to be closed for the safety of beachgoers,” Howard said.