Rockaway Beach goers forced to trudge through mountains of sand as Sandy recovery dampens Labor Day plans

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ROCKAWAY BEACH, QUEENS (PIX11) – Most people know how much of a headache it is to try to get down to the beach with your kart, a chair, a cooler, and if you have kids…forget about it. Now imagine trying to trudge half a mile, through the sand, with all that beach gear. Well that’s exactly what the Parks Department is asking some folks in Rockaway to do for the Labor Day weekend. And the worst part, they say, is they weren’t even given any warning.

Since the Rockaway recovery began after Hurricane Sandy, people living in the beach community say the city has been doing things backwards.

Building an expensive concession stand and bathroom before fixing the beach.

“They loused up the boardwalk, these people have no business, they really don’t care about the people in Rockaway,” Alan Price said.

For the last three weeks, the city shutdown beach access between Beach 94th street and Beach 109 while crews dredged up sand to help prevent future damage from another Sandy-like storm.

This stretch is scheduled to be re-open for the Labor Day weekend.

But with pipes still stretched across the sand in prime sun-bathing spots and only a few walkways cut through the towering dunes, most beach goers don’t believe it will be ready for the holiday crowds.

“It’s almost impossible to get on the beach.  I don’t see any reason to come here Labor Day weekend,” said Norbert Jonke of Forest Hills.

“I can’t imagine how someone is climbing over these hills to get to this beach.  Even if there is one path every 10-12 blocks, those 10 to 12 blocks are going to be overcrowded. And people, when they’re coming down to the beach with their kids and strollers and chairs and tons of stuff, it’s very difficult to walk four or five blocks to go and sit down and relax,” said resident Kelli Tirado.

Making matters worse, the Parks Department plans to shutdown this pristine section of sand between Beach 110th and 130th for the labor day weekend, even though THIS is where most beach bums have been staking their umbrellas for the summer.

And beach-goers say the shutdown came without any warning.

“People planned to come here and have parties on the beach.  They could have at least posted on the beach wall, that would be the least they could do,” said Saul Swerdloff of Staten Island.

With many of the Sandy survivors just getting back into their homes, they say being stripped of their Labor Day celebration is just another slap in the face for an already batter community.

“We need the dredging obviously, but people are just getting home and just getting back to normal.  It’s been a nice summer to be on the beach and it’s a tradition to have barbecues and stay down here late and it’s unfortunate we won’t be able to,” said disappointed beach goer Danielle Mundy.

They’re asking the Parks Department to ditch the dredging for the holiday weekend and wait until Tuesday and the end of the beach season.

“I don’t see what the big deal is if they waited 3 more days and started after Labor Day when all of the lifeguards are off of the beach and the beaches are officially closed,” Pat Kilgallen said.