District Council 37 and City Council Parks Committee Chair Mark Levine voiced support for expansion of city beach and pool season. They want it to end the last week of September instead of Labor Day.
Levine held a hearing last week on Intro. 629, the bill he’s sponsoring that would extend the season for beaches and pools around the city. Levine discussed how New York City’s beaches and pools have become increasingly popular, coinciding with increasing temperatures due to climate change. According to the Parks Department, 20 million individuals visited beaches and pools in 2014, with 18 million hitting up the beach alone (a 22 percent jump from 2013).
Levine also mentioned how NASA stated that last September was the third warmest for the Northern Hemisphere on record and the warmest September globally. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts that trend will continue this September and October.
Levine said it’s time to change the dates for pool and beach closures this year.
“This end date may have made sense in the past, but for a variety of reasons, I believe it is now anachronistic,” Levine said during his opening statement. “It’s time for an update. The tragic reality of global warming means that, like it or not, over time September is becoming ever warmed. Last year, the first week of September was one of the hottest of the year.” The Parks Department currently operates 53 outdoor swimming pools and, according to them, 14 miles worth of free public beaches.
The plan to extend the season drew praise from Henry Garrido, executive director of DC 37, who spoke on behalf of lifeguards attending the hearing. Garrido stated that he hopes to work with legislators on the logistics of implementing this change if it were to go through.
“We believe it’s appropriate to extend the summer seasons at pools and beached because September is often a hot month with many sunny days that extend past Labor Day,” said Garrido in a statement. “Young people are especially likely to go to the beach or to the nearest pool while the days are longer, and also are likely to go on the weekends.”
Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh told those at the hearing that keeping beaches and parks open would cost about $350,000.
Levine also remarked about the lack of options for those without money to escape the sometimes brutal heat of a New York City summer. He hoped that those in attendance would want everyone to have a chance to cool off.
“New York City’s beaches and outdoor pools have always served as powerfully democratizing institutions,” said Levine in a statement. “For millions of New Yorkers who can’t afford to vacation in the Hamptons or take a cruise in the Caribbean, these resources offer exceptional summer recreation opportunities right here in the five boroughs—accessible for the price of a MetroCard, free to enter and open to all.”