At a press conference on Aug. 6 at Jones Beach, State Park officials introduced free Wi-Fi for visitors under the name “Oh! Ranger Wifi.” This will be available from Field 6 to the West Bathhouse.
The program, sponsored by the New York State Parks Department, American Park Network and Toyota Plug-in Prius Hybrid, is part of a $65 million plan spearheaded by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to revitalize the state park after the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy almost two years ago. This is part of an extensive five-year plan, with each year bringing new features.
“We want to preserve the history of the park while modernizing and making it more relevant,” said Commissioner Rose Harvey. “Statistics say that 94 percent of park visitors feel Wi-Fi is the most important amenity a park could offer.”
At the press conference, Mark Saferstein, of the American Park Network, spoke about the main goals and intentions of bringing free Wi-Fi to the beach. This included looking for ways to keep visitors connected to the outdoors while still being connected to work and their families and friends. Saferstein went on to talk about how he hopes this can bridge the gap between the corporate and outdoor worlds. He said that when it all came down to it, “The need for connectivity could not be ignored.”
Visitors enjoyed using phones and computers on the sand as they lounged and relaxed. “If you have to do work, it makes it easier to do it here,” said Valerie Polizzotto, 41, of Forest Hills. “You have a lot more luxuries on the beach.”
Visitors enjoyed the many other benefits having free Wi-Fi at the beach. The program is not meant to keep people on their phones and computers all day, according to Saferstein, but to allow beach-goers to keep in touch with loved ones and stay updated on important matters that they would otherwise put on hold at the beach.
While the area covered by free Wi-Fi spans mainly the Boardwalk and beach front area now, it is being tested out so that in the future it can expand to more areas of Jones Beach and even to more state parks around Long Island.