Cedar Grove Beach now open to the public


Staffed with city lifeguards, Cedar Grove Beach is already drawing crowds looking for sun and surf much closer to home.

"I live five minutes away from here. (And you used to go to Jersey?) All the time. We used to go to the Jersey Shore every weekend. Now I think we will be coming here every weekend," said Rosemary Vitacco, a Staten Island resident.

"It has been closed to the public for quite some time. So we are quite excited to have it open," said Adena Long, NYC Parks Borough Commissioner.

But it is an opening that came with controversy, when nearly a year ago, 40 families were asked to leave some now shuttered bungalows.

"It is the last remaining beach colony in the city of New York," said Eleanor Dugan, a club member.

It was last September when Eleanor Dugan and others were forced to pack up and leave the tiny hamlet their club had rented from the city since the 60's.

They had cleaned the beach and paid for repairs.

"He keeps saying we're here illegally. There is no law that says you can't live on public property," Dugan had said back in September.

The city though, claims it had an agreement.

"If we would just walk away and let them have one more year they would depart. The years passed and now it's time to honor the commitment," Mayor Bloomberg said.

One summer later, Donna Jacobs enjoys the first days on this beach.

"I guess I can understand their point of view too because if I rented from there I might not want everybody here either. It's a catch 22. But now everybody's got it, they are more than welcome to come," Jacobs said.

"Definitely more access. Yes cleaner. I heard a lot of good things about it," said Carol Aponte, a Staten Island resident.

Parks officials say a television production company using some of the empty bungalows for filming has made in-kind donations that have gone toward improvements like new walks to the beach.

They also say the former residents sought historic preservation of the units.

Right now an environmental review is underway to determine which of these bungalows are worth saving and which ones are not.

After that process the city will come in with its other improvements...

"In years to come we are hoping to have picnic areas and ball fields, amenities that you would enjoy in any other city park," Long said.

It's now the city's 8th public beach.

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