NYC Beach Report Card: We’re Doing Swimmingly

Rockaway Beach has become the hipster riviera. The pathways on Rockaway received a perfect score on the 2011 beach report. Flickr/scriptingnews

Perhaps Monday’s breezy temperatures drew you to the sweater drawer.

Maybe you were kept from the shores this weekend by the knowledge that, with the past week’s record-breaking rainfall, an impending armada of raw sewage (possibly on fire) was creeping across the surface of the Hudson and expanding out into the horizon of the great Atlantic.

Maybe it the abundance of GREAT WHITE SHARKS living between Coney Island and the Rockaways that prompted you to stay away from the beaches.

But fear not the sand! Just in time for the end of summer, New Yorkers for Parks released their “2011 Report Card on Beaches,” and all seven New York City beaches have experienced significant improvement.

The Beach report uses a letter grading system to rate the beaches in terms of shoreline health, bathrooms, drinking fountains and pathways. It compares scores for 2011 to previous reports from 2009 and 2007.

In 2007, the average beach score was 59. F! As a result, critical improvements have been made over the past four years to bring the 2011 average score to 87. B +!

While everyone knows a B+ is no A, every would-be beachcomber worth his or her weight in Jeff Spicoli memorabilia knows that all they need are “some tasty waves and a cool buzz” to get their non-polluted beach enjoyment in full swing.

“The improvement across all seven beaches suggests that targeted maintenance strategies recommended in past reports have led to significantly cleaner and safer beaches for New Yorkers,” said Holly Leicht, executive director for  New Yorkers for Parks.

New Yorkers for Parks’ used the same methodology on all three of its beach reports since 2007, which involved detailed public opinion surveys. Some of the highlight of this year’s report include:

  • Coney Island, which had an overall score of 54 (F) in 2007, jumped to a score of 88 in 2011.
  • Between 2007 and 2011, the average score for the number of bathrooms jumped from 64 to 89, which is good news if you aren’t of the belief that the ocean is the greatest bathroom of all.

There is considerable room for improvement, though. Wolfe’s Pond Beach was the worst performing beach for the third report card in a row, based on the area’s abundance of litter and shortage of drinking fountains, fences, lifeguards and proper signage.

Wolfe's Pond Beach on Staten Island. The lowest rated New York City beach for the third report in a row is seen here, littered with debris and cyclists. Flickr/emilydickinsonridesabmx

New Yorkers for Park’s overall recommendations include:

  • Investing in capital dollars for drinking fountains.
  • Continued maintenance on shorelines.
  • Signage on Wolfe’s Pond Beach.

Poor Wolfe’s Pond Beach. Perhaps it should take a cue from the Rockaways and become “the new Williamsburg.”

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