Long Beach City Council OKs changes to beach season


It’s beach season, Long Beach. Just a little earlier than expected.

City officials held a news conference last Friday on the boardwalk at Riverside Boulevard, announcing immediate changes to beach access rules in the wake of an unexpectedly large gathering on the beach and a shooting at the Long Beach train station on June 13.

“No pass, no beach,” City Manager Dan Creighton said — even on weekdays, despite the fact that the beach originally would not open for weekday use until June 27. “The council will also be granting me, as the city manager, the authority to direct the Police Department to close the beach at any time, at my direction, for whatever reason we feel is necessary.”

The shooting, and the changes to the beach season, were the focus of discussion at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. Creighton addressed it all during his opening message.

The changes he announced had gone into effect last Friday. Up until then, beach passes were to be required only on weekends until the last Thursday of the month. With Creighton’s ruling, the summer season effectively began 13 days early, meaning that beach-goers will need to produce passes every day of the week.

“I have to say, for years I’ve been advocating opening the beach earlier, and I’m very happy to see this,” Councilman Roy Lester said. “It was the right thing to do at the time, and now we will get the beach opened earlier, probably from now on, forever.”

Creighton’s executive order to immediately start the beach season, rather than wait until June 27, was discussed, voted on and approved by the council members.

“The beach and the boardwalk are the heart of our city, and it feels like every year they’re being abused by people who are not concerned with the safety or quality of life for our residents,” Creighton said. “We expect to implement these measures in the future as well, to prevent the situation from reoccurring year after year.”

He also commended the Long Beach, Nassau County and Metropolitan Transportation Authority police departments for the “outstanding job they did in what was, by all accounts, a very difficult, if not impossible, situation.”

Officials said that a large group of teenagers gathered on the beach on June 13 after news spread of a “senior cut day” on social media. The teens came from towns including Baldwin, Elmont, Freeport, Hempstead, Malverne and Queens, and Acting Police Commissioner Rich DePalma said that the gathering numbered over 2,000. DePalma acknowledged that the department knew about the potential gathering the night before, but was expecting only 500 teens. Officers checked bags as they arrived.

Gatherings of over 100 people are not allowed at any time on the city’s beaches.

At around 6 p.m., the group was moved off the beach and directed toward the train station. There, shots were fired, and a 16-year-old was shot. He was taken to a nearby hospital. As of press time, there was no official word on his condition.

Additional shots were fired inside the station. A 15-year-old was charged with attempted assault, reckless endangerment, criminal use of a firearm, criminal possession of a loaded firearm and unlawful possession of a large-capacity ammunition-feeding device for the shots fired inside the station.

“There were some disorderly groups within that group, and some fights occurred,” DePalma said. “While dispersing that crowd, we needed the quality assistance of the National County Police Department and the MTA Police Department, and we really appreciate their efforts. The investigation is ongoing — we’re still gathering evidence. We gathered a lot of video. That video has to be looked through, and more charges may be pending.”

It is still unclear whether the same individual fired the shots both inside and outside the station.

“This won’t be a trend here in Long Beach,” City Council President Brendan Finn said. “Here we honor the values of respect for our community, for our law enforcement officers and our fellow citizens. Effective immediately, the city manager will undertake a series of measures to keep our residents safe.”

Next week, Part 2: Residents had a lot to say about the changes to beach policy, and the events of June 13, at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.