The LPCA’s beach club, located on Tierney Place at the corner of E. 177th Street (Locust Point Drive) was a gathering place for people living in the community for many years before it was closed due to pollution.
For the past four years, members of the LPCA have been petitioning DOH to reopen the beach, but it now seems like their request was destined for denial, even though the group expended extensive resources in the effort.
A waste pipe, which dumps excess sewage into the East River, is located within 100 feet of the beach. Even though the pipe has been there for years, new, stricter health regulations ban bathing within 750 feet of the pipe.
LPCA officials, who pointed out the waste pipe’s existence when the application process began, can’t understand why the DOH didn’t warn them that the beach’s proximity to the pipe would instantly disqualify it.
“Between the lifeguard chair, life-saving equipment, and testing water samples, we lost at least $4,000, and that is not including time taken to fill out a 100-page application,” said Chrys Napolitano, a board member of LPCA. “We are not really sure who we should be angry at – the people who encouraged us in this process, or those who were nasty.”
Napolitano feels that the group was set up for a let down by the health department.
“We spent all of this time and money, and then we got turned down for an obvious reason,” Napolitano stated.
In 2004, the LPCA began tests of the beach water, in hopes of reopening it to bathers. While the water samples taken passed inspection, the health department warned LPCA that the guidelines would become much stricter the next year.
“We were contacted, and told that we needed to test the water again,” Napolitano continued. “Subsequently, the health department sent their own inspectors down to the beach, we gave them a key, and they tested the water on several occasions, indicating that all was well.”
Napolitano said that people who own houses along the waterfront swim in the water, but she is not going to encourage her neighbors to swim in the water if they health department thinks it not safe.
Though sometimes the beach would be closed after storms, she feels that a reopened Locust Point beach would still be an asset to the community.
“With the economy the way it is now, I think people in the neighborhood and their guests would love to have a beach nearby to go to,” Napolitano said, who holds out hope that something can be done to rectify the situation.
The DOH did not comment as of press time on this matter.