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Environmentalists push for beaches on Manhattan’s shoreline

MANHATTAN — Brooklyn has Coney Island. The Rockaways line the southern shore of Queens. Big beaches in the Bronx and Staten Island also make nice spots to swim and relax. But Manhattanites have no beach to call their own. Now there is a growing movement to create a beach in the only borough without one.

"Everybody is talking about it. I know the Borough President here in Manhattan is a huge fan of the idea. Let's create swimming off of Manhattan Island," Roland Lewis of the Waterfront Alliance said.

There is a small sandy beach in Inwood at the end of Dyckman Street. Swimming isn't allowed and the beach is dirty. But Leticia Silver found it a few years ago and enjoys relaxing there.

"It's pretty cool. It's a good place for us to come and just hang out. It's a beautiful view. It's very peaceful," she said.

Roland Lewis said a spot like this along the Hudson River is good place to start.

"And the water is generally pretty clean. Clean enough to swim in in most places," he said.

Manhattan is surrounded by water, but for years pollution made the waterways unsafe. Now, according to environmentalists, the water is the cleanest its been in years.

But even if the New York City Parks Department created a beach in a protected area where the currents aren't bad, it's a tough sell for some New Yorkers.

"I don't know if I would go in the water, but I would hang out on the beach area around it and maybe put my toes in," New Yorker Julie Samuels said.

Nyasia Sylvester said she wouldn't swim in the water, even if the city created a floating pool like the harbor baths in Copenhagen, Denmark.

"If you look down there now, there is so much trash and it's so disgusting and the water is kind of like a weird green color. I don't think anybody would want to go in there," Sylvester said.

Richard Mensing said he would love a Manhattan beach. He was sunbathing on a small patch of grass on the west side Friday, as cars whizzed by behind him. "Put sand and some aspect of a swimming hole that's clean and I'm all for it," he said.

PIX11 News reached out to the Parks Department to find out if the city agency has ever explored this idea. They did not respond.

Earlier in August, Mayor Bill de Blasio told a reporter he found a Manhattan beach "intriguing."