Rockaway Beach. Photo: Bjoertvedt, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As New York City recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, NYC Parks is closing out a successful beach and outdoor pool season, where more than 1 million swimmers took to City pools to cool off, local businesses in Rockaway had one of their most lucrative summers to date, and Parks debuted a brand new water safety initiative. Beaches and outdoor pools officially close this Sunday, September 11. 

“Our public pools and beaches are an essential part of summertime in New York, and as temperatures rise due to the effects of climate change they’ve become even more critical to provide relief from the heat,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “I’m so proud of the hundreds of Parks staff – from lifeguards, to filter plant operators, and everyone in between – who worked hard every day this summer to keep our pools and beaches open in the face of a challenging summer. As the city moves toward recovery from the pandemic, we know how important these spaces are to the community, because at Parks we are the community.”

Faced with the challenges of a nation-wide lifeguard shortage, New York City was one of the only major US cities to open all public pools and beaches without permanent closures due to staffing – a testament to the City’s commitment to equitable access. 

  • More than 1 million swimmers take advantage of free City pools – For the first time since 2019, outdoor pool attendance surpassed 1 million people this summer, an increase of nearly 20% over 2021 attendance. New Yorkers are once again taking advantage of these free amenities to cool off, get exercise, and even get fed: thousands of free lunches were served at 37 public pools through the DOE Summer Meals program. 
  • Debut of New Water Safety Classes – This summer, Parks piloted “Learn to Be Safe” a new, land-based program that teaches children about safe behavior in, on, and around water. Topics covered include water parks, oceans lakes and rivers, as well as water hazards around the home. In its first year, the program took place on pool decks at five sites across the city, reaching 250 kids.
  • Rockaway Beach Concessions: 2022 on track to be the most successful season ever! Early gross receipts from Rockaway Beach Bazaar are showing a 47% increase from 2021, and a 3% increase from 2019 which was previously the most successful season. And new this year, the Beach 97th Street Snack Bar will remain open all year long, so New Yorkers can enjoy that summer feeling throughout all four seasons. 
  • Brand New Mini Pools Open in Harlem and the Bronx – Two new pools – at Abraham Lincoln Playground in Harlem, and Playground 174 adjacent to the Bronx River Houses in Soundview, the Bronx – opened this summer after full renovations funded through the Community Parks Initiative. The reconstruction project replaced the parks’ 1970s era above ground pool with a brand new in-ground swimming pool that is fully accessible. 
  • Highbridge Wading Pool Makeover – When Highbridge Wading Pool closed this season for needed repairs, Parks staff worked quickly to find a creative solution to re-adapt this space into a spray deck with lounge chairs, shade structures, kids games and sand boxes. (See photos at link below)
  • US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Completes Construction on Rockaway Beach Six Weeks Ahead of Schedule – In July, Parks and the USACE announced a section of construction on the new stone groins was completed six weeks earlier than expected, opening 12 blocks of beach for swimming just in time for the July 4th holiday weekend. 

NYC Parks manages 53 outdoor pools and 8 public beaches citywide, all free and open for public use. This year, beaches opened for swimming on Saturday, May 28, and pools opened on Tuesday, June 28. Both remain open until Sunday, September 11. 

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