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Report Card on Beaches 2007

Guess what? According to New Yorkers for Parks (NY4P), New York City beaches are performing poorly overall

NY4P is the only independent watchdog for all the City’s parks, beaches and playgrounds. They aren’t new either, they have been doing this for nearly 100 years.

They graded the beaches on 4 major service areas

  1. Bathrooms
  2. Drinking Fountains
  3. Pathways
  4. Shoreline

NY4P has 4 goals with releasing this report.

  1. To provide city residents with an assessment of how each of the seven beaches is performing in comparison to each other. This easily accessible online information helps communities advocate for improved services for their beaches.
  2. To provide an independent assessment of beach performance from year to year against a defined minimum level of service. This creates accountability for providing both this defined level of service as well as improvements for every beach.
  3. To spark debate among communities, public agencies and advocates about how best to maintain and improve public beaches in need. The Report Card on Beaches provides a valuable service by identifying those beaches in greatest need, but more importantly, The Report Card indicates how we might begin to address that need.
  4. To highlight high- and low performing beaches, as well as systemic issues, in order to identify and implement best practices citywide.

Why a report card?

Waterfront access in New York City is precious, and the 14 miles of public beaches offer some of the few points along the shoreline where any New Yorker can jump in the water and swim. Beaches also afford opportunities for boating, birding, strolling, surfing, and relaxing. The Parks Department is responsible for ensuring that beaches are clean, safe and available for public use. The Report Card on Beaches highlights and monitors this important component of the Parks Department’s inventory, and the results show that our beaches need additional care.

Results are below the fold. Kiddie beach isn’t going to be on the list.

Borough Beach Name Rating Mileage
Staten Island Midland Beach Satisfactory 1.5
Brooklyn Manhattan Beach Challenged 0.3
Bronx Orchard Beach Challenged 1.1
Staten Island South Beach Challenged 1.7
Queens Rockaway Beach Challenged 7.2
Brooklyn Coney Island/Brighton Beach Unsatisfactory 2.7
Staten Island Wolfe’s Pond Beach Unsatisfactory 1.3

Manhattan Beach – Challenged
Located east of Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach is secluded and primarily serves the adjacent neighborhood. Created on a salt marsh by a real estate developer in the mid-19th century, Manhattan Beach was transferred to the city Parks Department in 1951. Today, it offers a quiet alternative to Coney Island. A playground and several baseball fields add to the recreational opportunities in the area.The U-shaped beach is less than a mile long and had 1 million visitors in 2006.Successes
Although some maintenance repairs were needed, Manhattan Beach’s pathways were free of litter, broken glass, and weeds. This was the highest-scoring feature at the beach. The shoreline at Manhattan Beach also performed relatively well. Beyond the consistent challenge of litter, the beach was in excellent condition, providing open, safe beaches for public use. Bathrooms at Manhattan Beach performed above the citywide average, receiving 75%. Some damaged equipment was found, including stall doors, locks, and sinks, but bathrooms were open for use and generally provided toilet paper and paper towels.

Manhattan Beach’s drinking fountains were the lowest scoring in the city. Leaks, clogs, and non functioning fountains were all found, as well as damaged spigots and structures. Drinking fountains are a consistent challenge for the Parks Department to maintain.

Coney Island/Brighton Beach
Coney Island and Brighton Beach stretch for 2.7 miles, from West 37th Street to Corbin Place.2 These beaches face the Atlantic Ocean and are easily accessible by several subway and bus lines. Coney Island/Brighton Beach is the most popular city beach and received more than 15 million visitors in 2006. The area’s colorful history as a seaside resort and amusement park is legendary. By 1920 the subway connected Coney Island to the rest of the city, and its beach became an extremely popular summer destination. Beach improvements, including the construction of the boardwalk and the addition of sand, began in 1921, once the City secured the title to the beach front. In 1938, Coney Island’s beach was transferred to the Parks Department, widened to serve more people, and extended to meet Brighton Beach in the east. In recent years, Coney Island has experienced a veritable renaissance, as it has become host to the Mermaid Parade, the music festival Siren Fest, and a minor league baseball team, the Brooklyn Cyclones, at Keystone Park. Following the recent sale of 14 acres of boardwalk land to major developer Thor Equities, communities citywide are debating how Coney Island’s future should look. A likely increase in residents will result in an increased demand for clean and safe beaches. Pathways and bathrooms at the beach scored fairly well, but drinking fountains and shorelines performed poorly

The Coney Island and Brighton Beach boardwalk was relatively safe with no broken glass found and benches intact and safe. Beach bathrooms were 95% open and available for use. The toilets and sinks were typically in working order, and bathrooms were free of graffiti.

All sections of the shoreline surveyed were open for use, but unfortunately excessive broken glass was found at 40% of transects. Excessive litter also
impacted 40% of surveyed areas. These negative conditions had a significant impact on the shoreline score for this beach. Although pathways scored well, one quarter suffered from wooden boards that were raised or missing, causing potential trip hazards. Maintenance issues including spilled paint and loose nails should be addressed.


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