Lifeguard issues in Far Rockaway

July 11, 2008 3:28:14 PM PDT
A lot of beach and not a lot of lifeguards is becoming a big concern for residents in Far Rockaway, Queens. Janet Rashes expected a relaxing day at the beach.

She planned to soak in the sun one Thursday afternoon, and then take a dip.

"When we went into the water we were told by the people on the jeeps to please leave," said Rasher.

That's because there are very few lifeguards along this stretch of beach in Far Rockaway.

Dozens of neighbors say looking at this vacant life guard stand makes them mad.

"We have people chasing off the beach. What do we have this beach for?" said Carmela George.

Swimmers are not allowed in the water weekdays between beach 9th and 60th streets.

Neighbors say it's not just a big problem for them but for the hundreds of visitors turned away each week.

Beachgoers who use public transportation and get off at the 36th street station can't walk just one block up to a beach instead they have to walk more than 20 blocks to get to a beach with a consistently stationed lifeguard.

Neighbor Bob Diamond says 'They're told they have to go to beach 9th street or to the 60s. There's no subway there. At the end of the day Now you have to walk all the way back.'

The Parks and Recreation Department has crews monitoring the beach making sure no one gets in the water.

While Far Rockaway neighbors say they never see a lifeguard on the stretch of beach in question, a parks department spokesperson tells Eyewitness News that lifeguards are assigned to the area depending on turnout.

"Busiest beach is 116. We're going to keep lifeguards at our busiest beaches," Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said.

Beachgoers should call 311 to find out where a lifeguard is stationed.

STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Carolina Leid