TODAY'S PAPER
58° Good Morning
58° Good Morning
NewsHealthCoronavirus

Crowds welcome a return to Long Beach boardwalk

A beloved boardwalk reopens, and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran says cabanas at Nickerson Beach will open in June. Here's the latest in Thursday's daily coronavirus wrap-up video. Credit: Newsday / Shelby Knowles; Howard Schnapp; File footage; Facebook / Governor Andrew Cuomo, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran

The iconic Long Beach boardwalk reopened Thursday morning to a large group of residents walking, running and biking along the beach.

City officials removed barriers to the 2.2-mile stretch early in the day to those looking to return to the boardwalk after it closed in March because of growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

City Council members announced this week that the boardwalk would reopen to everyone, but that beach access, starting Saturday, would be limited to residents only.

City officials said crowds Thursday mostly practiced social distancing and wore masks. Biking is allowed in the center lane daily until 10 a.m.

“It looks good,” city spokesman John McNally said. “A vast majority of people are wearing masks. Our special summer officers are handing out masks to those that don’t have them.”

Masks are only required when social distancing of 6 feet from people other than family members is not possible. Residents are also asked to carry a mask in case they come in close contact with other people.

Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) said he went for a 4.2-mile run on the boardwalk shortly after 7 a.m. He said most people were exercising, with many runners and bikers not wearing masks, but keeping to their own groups.

“It was packed. It was definitely more crowded. Everyone was cheering and waving to each other and really happy to be out there,” Kaminsky said.

A note to our community:

As a public service, this article is available for all. Newsday readers support our strong local journalism by subscribing.  Please show you value this important work by becoming a subscriber now.

SUBSCRIBE

Cancel anytime

The Long Beach boardwalk was rebuilt in 2013 after superstorm Sandy, using $40 million in disaster funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also completed a $130 million shoreline protection project from Long Beach to Point Lookout last year. Federal regulations generally require beaches that receive federal funding to remain open to the public, but local municipalities, such as Long Beach, Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead, have been allowed an exception during the pandemic.

“Temporary restrictions taken by health officials and local authorities that limit beach access, appear to be prudent measures,” Army Corps officials said in a statement Wednesday.

Jacqueline Rada, a lifelong resident of Long Beach, called the return of the boardwalk a gift to residents. She said Long Beach and Nassau County are making the right call to prevent thousands of visitors from  pouring into Long Beach, following New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's move to close beaches there, such as the Rockaways. 

“The boardwalk is like our lifeline, and we missed it so much,” Rada said. “We’re excited and we hope everyone pays attention to the rules and we don’t get overrun.”

Robert Ryan, of Long Beach, said he was glad to see the boardwalk open, but thought decisions about closures should include public input since it is funded by taxpayers. He said he agreed with initially closing the boardwalk for public health.

 “I am very happy they are opening,” Ryan said. “The boardwalk is not just a place where people ride bikes and run. The boardwalk is a peace of mind for those looking to escape the harsh realities of this world.”

With Cecilia Dowd

A note to our community:

As a public service, this article is available for all. Newsday readers support our strong local journalism by subscribing.  Please show you value this important work by becoming a subscriber now.

SUBSCRIBE

Cancel anytime

Health