July 3, 2019
By Emma Bolton
New York City and New York state governments have recently made a show of investing capital in the city and state’s parks – but access to public beaches and pools remains a point of contention.
The New York City Council celebrated the passage of a $44 million boost to the Parks and Recreation Department budget in June and it officially declared that 2020 will be the “Year of the Parks.” The beaches and public pools that are managed by the Parks Department will remain open for one week longer, until September 8th, but that raises the question: why not just keep them open longer every year?
Similar issues arise at the state level. State beaches also close on Labor Day, even though – especially with climate change – it’s often quite hot well into September. While Jones Beach lists it’s swimming dates extend well into September, it is an outlier.
In honor of the July 4 long weekend, here’s a rundown of the city and state policies on beaches and pools.
Doesn’t the city extend “bathing season” for an extra week every year?
In 2017, then-Committee for Parks and Recreation Chair Mark Levine was successful in his push to allocate the necessary funds to keep the parks open an extra week and included them in the 2018 budget.
This year, the committee allocated the necessary funds again, following a push from the advocacy group New Yorkers for Parks. Their priorities were more permanent park workers, gardeners and additional seasonal workers. They consider it a win-win that the parks will be open to the public that extra week, as well as the wider investment in the maintenance in the parks.
Is the longer beach season now the default?
No. The pools and beaches are open until September 8th, 2019. Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation Councilman Peter Koo’s office stated that the extra funding for 2020 is a one-off. It will be up to the Committee and the Parks Department to prioritize the funding again for 2021.
When do New York City’s public pools and beaches open and close?
The city-run beaches opened up on Memorial Day weekend. New Yorkers had to wait until June 27th totake advantage of the public pools across the city. Both the beaches and pools close a week after Labor Day on September 8th.
What about on the state-run beaches?
Swimming season at the state parks with ocean or lake access vary, but for the majority of beaches it ends on or around Labor Day in 2019. The state Parks Department recommends visitors call ahead to inquire about the hours and end of the season. Last year, the governor instructed state-run beaches to stay open a few days past Labor Day because of emergency heat advisories. It depends on the weather if that will happen again this year.
A notable exception is Jones Beach, which will have ocean swimming until September 19, but note that it is always subject to change. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has focused significant attention on upgrades to Jones Beach. Last week, he tried the new zipline and in May he found funding to expand the hours of the bus service to Jones Beach.
Considering that the past five years have set global records for the hottest year ever, will adjustments be made to swimming schedules to accommodate that?
The city government has announced no plans to open the pools earlier next summer.