The surfers want more of your beach for less the bargan

By Jeffrey Williams-Maisonet

ARVERNE N.Y- Apparently, some may argue that the surfers do not have enough beach to totally operate. Some, of course, say it is a war against swimmers in an area where people invested close to a million dollars raising a family in Arverne.

This has been a common fight for the past year and they don’t seem to be throwing in the towel as of yet on this matter. Early last year, the surfers demanded a large amount of beach from Beach 61st-73rd Street and other parts heading west of the peninsula.

The following is a letter written by Zoey Thorson, an advocate for more surfing beaches.

Hello Neighbors!

With summer upon I us I am really concerned about surfer safety. With all of the recent press (ranging from the NYT, to the Metro to Rolling Stone Magazine) as well as surfing being so much more popular
than ever before (even Arverne by the Sea is using surfing as a selling point for townhouses and well, it’s in the Olympics.) I am super concerned that we (surfers) will be so crowded this summer that there is going to be a major increase in injuries (currently trying to gather data from St.John’s from last summer.) Last summer numerous folks headed to the E.R. with gashes in their faces from surfboard fins, among other injuries and it is only going to get worse.

Specifically, we need

1)Signs that state information on ‘Surfer Etiquette’ which equates to ‘surfer safety’ I mean… Could you imagine driving in NYC with no lines on the street, no signs, no rules for right of way? Well, that’s what surfing in the summer is like in Rockaway. There are more brand new surfers than there are experienced surfers. Often their lack of knowledge of surf etiquette leads to dangerous situations.

2)A better surfer beach layout. This winter I saw more surfers in the water than ever before. To clarify, 2 years ago I would be out in January and see 1 maybe 2, if it was really good 4 people out… This winter there were days that there were 20+ surfers on just beach 62. That is in below freezing temps… Can you imagine what it will look like once it’s warm out? and worst of all, in the winter if we have a collision, we are all adults, but in the summer there are plenty of young kids in the water learning to surf. God forbid one of them gets hurt! There needs to be more beaches for surfing, ones that surfers will surf on. Everyone in our community deserves to have access to and enjoy the ocean, and to feel safe at the beach. Surfer’s don’t need all the beaches, but a better balance needs to be worked out.
Currently the breaks from b68 to b71 barely break, and the majority of the surfers are surfing between b61 and b69, the majority of which are not surf beaches in the summer. In the summer there are schools taking up all of the beaches from 68-71 (where there are proper surfing waves) and because you can barely surf on the ones that are left, everyone crowds in at 68-71. It is a recipe for disaster. Can you imagine 20 brand new surfers in class, squished in with 20 experienced surfer, squished in with another 20 children, all between 2 jetty’s? My suggestion is either extending the ‘surfing hours’ at the other beaches. i.e. Instead of surfers having to leave the water at 10am on weekdays, maybe noon which is when other beach goers show up anyways, as well as changing the surf beaches to every other beach from 60 to 73. This would allow for all to have access to a surfing and a swimming beach within 2 blocks. As opposed to the swimmers from 68-71 not being allowed to swim at a beach near them, as well as surfers having access to a beach as well. There are over 100 beaches in Rockaway and easily 1000’s of surfers – not including the visitors… and there are only 10 surfing beaches. This just does not compute.

What Can we do?

I attended the Civic meeting for RB last month, and am curious when/where etc for our civic meeting is in Arverne? What else can we do to change this? I have emailed parks dept. but this is an urgent and pressing matter.

ROCKAWAY. You be the judge, and sound off.

  1. Should the surfers get more beach and push swimming out?
  2. Should a deal be made by the residents and surfers again to see what can be adjusted?
  3.  Forget the surfers and tell them to find another place?
  4.  This is a bad deal period.

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