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Protesters Out In Force Sunday, Demand City Rethink Rockaway Beach Closure

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- City beaches opened this weekend for the summer season, but a stretch of Rockaway Beach remains closed.

On Sunday, the community came out to fight the decision to shut it down, CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis reported.

Protesters showed up, demanding action.

Days before beaches were due to officially open, the city Parks Department announced a half-mile stretch of sand would be closed. The reason? Severe erosion and safety concerns.

MORE11 Blocks Of Rockaway Beach To Close This Summer Due To Safety Concerns

"We've known about the erosion for years. It has been five years since Hurricane Sandy and we know what has to be done. We need jettys. We need rock groynes. We need all the protective measures to keep the people of this community safe," Councilman Eric Ulrich said.

Rockaway Beach
A section of Rockaway Beach is expected to be closed the entire summer, and that is not sitting well with local residents and business owners. (Photo: CBS2)

Ulrich was backing residents on Sunday, calling on state and city leaders to invest in that infrastructure.

"They're gonna want our tax money to pay for the jettys. We've already paid and paid and paid. This is not right," resident Ronnie Hickey said.

Protesters put up signs calling out Sen. Chuck Schumer to put pressure on the federal government. On Friday, he sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers to come up with emergency options to replenish the sand needed.

"We need him to continue on -- not just a photo shoot or a letter. We need him to bang on the table and make sure things get done now," said Eddy Pastore, co-president of the group "Friends of Rockaway Beach."

Earlier this week, Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said severe spring storms caused more-than-expected erosion.

"The city is just being very cautious, that if we're going to do something we just want to make sure we're doing it right," Lewandowski said.

CBS2's DeAngelis surveyed the section of the beach that the city has closed -- between Beach 91st Street and Beach 102nd Street. Business owners are concerned over how 11 blocks of empty beach will impact their bottom line.

"My business is right down the block from the beach, you know? It's gonna affect my business. Nobody's gonna be coming here," said Frank Amato, owner of Elegante restaurant.

The city says four and a half miles of the beach will remain open.

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