Summer is unofficially upon us as city beaches are opening this Memorial Day weekend, but finding the ideal spot of sand may be tricky in the Rockaways, as much to the annoyance of locals, what was once prime shoreline remains in redevelopment long after Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
The mayor stayed away as city officials announced beaches are open.
In the Rockaways, long stretches of sand are less weekend paradise and more construction zone. Forget your sun visor. This is hard-hat territory.
"It looks like hell," said Kevin Boyle, a Rockaway community activist. "It's not exactly ready for the top 10 list anywhere, but it's coming along. I'm pretty sure by 2020, the boardwalk will be there and the beach will look good."
Now, bulldozer tracks are everywhere. The Army Corps of engineers is dredging sand to lengthen beaches, which will soften waves.
Ongoing work means spots will open and shut at times, though new Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver can't say exactly where and when.
"I'm not familiar with the specifics of the detail about what portion will be open and what will be closed, but I do know that there are portions that will be open," Silver said.
Even open spots, though, pose danger. The path on Beach 94th Street leads to a cliff.
As for the boardwalk, Hurricane Sandy knocked out much of it. The city decided it's safest to get rid of the whole thing and raise it stronger, with barriers on either side.
All that work, combined with environmental regulations, takes time.
Residents said it may be more bearable if their neighbors in Nassau County weren't able to stroll without crashing into chain link.
"I'm not familiar with the process that Long Beach used compared to New York City, so it's hard for me to compare the two processes of how they got theirs done," Silver said.
Others said Long Beach and other places rebuilt boardwalks in the same risky way as before Hurricane Sandy.
"And if another storm came, those boardwalks would be uplifted again and be projectiles into the community," said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder of Queens.
So the Rockaways, and those who love it, wait. Officials say Memorial Day is when the boardwalk should be done. Just not Memorial Day 2014. It's 2017 instead.
But let's not end this on such a bleak note. It's summer! So, two pieces of good news. One, you can still get here by ferry from Lower Manhattan. Two, food in the Rockaways just keeps on getting better and better.