FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 27, 2004
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES START OF THE NEW YORK CITY BEACH SEASON
City Beaches Are Open Memorial Day Weekend Through Labor Day
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, State Assembly Member Adele Cohen, Council Member Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. and Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe on the boardwalk of Coney Island in Brooklyn to announce the start of New York City's beach season on Saturday, May 29. During the kick-off, the Mayor and elected officials also unveiled the Wonder Wheel Pavilion, one of four new performance pavilions installed this spring along the Coney Island Boardwalk.
"New York City's beaches will open for swimming starting this weekend," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Our 14 miles of beaches offer more than 11 million New Yorkers and visitors each year a great way to cool down during the hot summer months. And thanks to Parks & Recreation's aggressive lifeguard recruitment efforts, all City beaches will be open throughout the season. I encourage all New Yorkers to visit City beaches this summer, but ask they only swim when beaches are open and when lifeguards are on duty."
"Last summer's weather wasn't kind to sun worshipers-particularly on the weekends, said Commissioner Benepe. "We hope Mother Nature will provide more sunshine this year and let people fully enjoy the City's beautiful sandy beaches. The Parks Department is pleased to offer a new Parks Greeter program this year at 26 of our busiest beaches and parks citywide. These friendly summer staff members in their bright orange shirts will provide information on events and activities and help us keep parks safe and clean for everyone."
The Department of Parks & Recreation has continued its extensive lifeguard recruitment campaign this year, which includes visiting public schools, distributing literature, and making public service announcements. Currently, 145 new recruits are participating in lifeguard training classes, and 315 returning lifeguards have passed the required re-certification exam to staff the City's beaches. The City is also working with several international lifeguard recruiting organizations to select and screen international candidates. This year, 53 new international lifeguards are in training to safeguard the City's beaches and pools. The new recruits, both from at home and abroad, are expected to bring this year's total lifeguard count to 1,000.
Candidates for lifeguard positions must be 16 years or older, swim 50 yards in 35 seconds, and complete 40 hours of training, including CPR instruction. The City still has lifeguard openings, and potential applicants should call 311.
The City's beaches, which span 14 miles, will open this Saturday, and will be open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. City beaches include Orchard Beach in the Bronx; Brighton Beach, Coney Island, and Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn; Rockaway Beach in Queens; and Midland Beach, South Beach, and Wolfe's Pond Beach in Staten Island. Swimming is prohibited when beaches are closed.
Also announced today were recent improvements made along the Coney Island boardwalk, including four performance pavilions. Installed in April, with support from Council Member Domenic M. Recchia, the pavilions will offer musical performances and activities on weekends from Memorial Day through Labor Day. They include the Wonder Wheel Pavilion (donated by the Wonder Wheel Amusement Park), the Dreamland Pavilion (donated by Coney Island Chamber of Commerce), the Astroland Pavilion (donated by Astroland Amusement Park) and the Steeplechase Pavilion (donated by the Friends of the Boardwalk).
Assembly Member Cohen also committed $1 million for the construction of a bicycle and skate path on the beach and for the creation of new beach access paths. Borough President Markowitz and Assembly Member Cohen have also allocated $1 million and $200,000 respectively to replace the 121 boardwalk lights with historic twin cast iron light poles. The new light poles will allow for colorful hanging banners and mounted baskets for plants, and will complement the 600 World's Fair benches last year.
"As we formally open the beach and boardwalk for the 2004 season, it is a great pleasure to also announce $1 million in funding for the Brighton Beach-Coney Island Bike Pathway and Beach Access Project," said Assembly Member Cohen. "The first phase will connect the biking Greenways at Ocean Parkway and Coney Island Avenue and provide permanent beach access paths to make it easier for seniors, the disabled, and families with baby strollers to get closer to the water. These improvements will provide year-round pleasure for shorefront residents as well as thousands of summer visitors and I am delighted to work with Mayor Bloomberg and the Parks Department in funding the work."
"There is nowhere in New York that can boast more character and more characters than Coney Island," said Borough President Markowitz. "With the best subway access to Coney Island we've ever had at the innovative new Stillwell Avenue terminal, it's quicker and easier than ever for Brooklynites and tourists to see the Coney Island of my childhood and the Coney Island of the future - all at the same time. With the sand, sun and numerous attractions there's no better way to start summer than by visiting Coney Island."
The City's 53 outdoor pools will open on Saturday, June 26, 2004. Both City beaches and pools are free to the public and will be open through Labor Day, Monday, September 6, 2004.
Edward Skyler/Robert Lawson (212) 788-2958
Megan Sheekey (Parks)