Critics: City favors beaches of the rich
by patrick arden / metro new york
“Beach apartheid” is the label Ida Sanoff has attached to the city’s system for assigning lifeguards in Brooklyn and the Rockaways.
Many beaches near lower-income areas, such as 36th Street, are left unstaffed by lifeguards, while more wealthy areas have plenty.
“Year after year, certain beaches are privileged,” charged Sanoff, who lives in Brighton Beach. “They’re always staffed, while other beaches never have lifeguards. It’s not fair.”
Swimming is prohibited where there are no lifeguards, but in 2004 Sanoff was arrested for simply sunbathing at a closed beach. She wants to know why lifeguards in her neighborhood, for example, are always posted in front of the Oceana Condominiums, where apartments can fetch millions of dollars. “But if you walk past the Steeplechase Pier in Coney Island almost down to the end of the peninsula, where there are a lot of low-income minorities, there’s just about no place open where there’s a lifeguard,” she said.
Dan Mundy Jr., a firefighter who lives in Broad Channel, complains about the lack of open beaches in the Rockaways, particularly in the less affluent, northern areas, where he worked as a lifeguard for five years in the late 1970s. “People could use those beaches,” he said.
“Lifeguards are assigned based on where they are most needed,” said Philip Abramson, a spokesman for the Parks Department. When Metro asked about beaches in the 30s, 40s and 50s, next to stops on the A line, he claimed the lack of lifeguards was due to an absence of “residences adjoining the beach.”
“You have a tremendous population that comes down to use those beaches,” Mundy said, “and all those areas are closed.”