Rockaway Beach reopens

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Rockaway Beach officially reopened on Friday, May 24THE COURIER/Photos by LOGAN MILLER
Rockaway Beach officially reopened on Friday, May 24

BY LOGAN MILLER

The sun is out and the shore is open, but not everything is back to normal at Rockaway Beach.

There is still work to be done to restore the beach to the way things were before Sandy devastated the Rockaway community in November. An uprooted boardwalk, damaged homes and buildings as well as a destroyed sea wall are some of the problems the community has faced the past seven months.

Rockaway Beach officially reopened on Friday, May 24.

Christine Charles, a local who tries to make her way to the beach every day, said homeowners have tried their best with whatever resources are available.

“The city has done well overall helping us rebuild,” she said. “But with no full seawall yet, sand continues to get pushed onto the streets closest to the water during heavy winds.”

Other residents were not as happy with efforts to restore the beach.

“It’s been terrible,” said resident Cassie Mulholand. “We’ve been forgotten compared to the Jersey Shore, Coney Island and other beach areas, They need to be more active in getting the beach walls up again, as well as the boardwalk.”

Those working on the beach this summer are anxious to see how residents and visitors respond to the changes.

“This should be an exciting, but interesting summer,” said Morgan White, who has worked the last six summers as a lifeguard on Rockaway Beach. “The fact that we don’t have a boardwalk right now will definitely change things. It should be interesting to see if more beachgoers come to Rockaway Beach with some of the other beaches closed.”

According to the Parks Department’s website, “boardwalk islands” will provide a way for people to walk from the streets to the beach at multiple points along the seven-mile beachfront. The Department of Environmental Protection is working with the Department of Transportation to build four-foot-high concrete walls that extend above the sand between Beach 126th and Beach 149th Street. The planned walls will be a foot taller than those in place now.

Sandy’s aftereffects could extend beyond the beach itself.

John Biscaino, a five-year lifeguard at Rockaway Beach, said there are concerns about the storm’s effects on the water.

“Overall, the beach has definitely changed,” he said. “There’s less sand than before, and it’s causing new rip tides we need to look out for.”