Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk

Mats Make Beaches Accessible To All New Yorkers

Tuesday, June 19, 2007
No. 79

Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe today joined Commission on Human Rights Commissioner Patricia L. Gatling, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Commissioner Matt Sapolin, Council Member Domenic Recchia, and Council Member Michael Nelson to announce the installation of mats laid on the sand to provide beach access to elderly and disabled communities.

Collaboration among agencies is key to New York City’s disability access effort in parks and communities throughout the five boroughs. This announcement underscores Parks’ commitment to making City parks accessible to everyone and complements the Human Rights Commission’s recent work in Brighton Beach and other communities on accessibility in residential buildings and stores.

“We’ve brought New Yorkers Wheelchair Football and Quad Rugby, a website designed for those with visual, hearing, mobility, and cognitive impairments…and now we bring you the waves and the sand,” said Commissioner Benepe. “Today, we celebrate yet another example of Parks’ commitment to helping ALL New Yorkers discover how the City’s 29,000 acres of parkland can enrich their lives with programs, facilities, and now beach access.”

Thanks to $130,000 in Mayoral funding, the Parks Department was able to install almost 2,000 feet of accessible “Mobi-Mats” at four beaches around the City: in the Rockaways at Beach 116th Street, Queens; Brighton Beach, Brooklyn; Orchard Beach, Bronx; and Midland Beach at Jefferson Avenue, Staten Island. All locations have accessible public transportation and accessible comfort stations.

The mats were laid on the sand and secured with 14-inch staples, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Find more information at:

“These successful modifications create true mobility and independence,” said Commissioner Gatling. “People with disabilities have a right to participate fully in all areas of life and are protected from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations under the City Human Rights Law. We are thrilled today to join with Parks in making these City beaches available to all.”

In 2006, the Human Rights Commission’s Equal Access Program targeted Brighton Beach because of its large number of elderly and disabled individuals and high percentage of old residential multiple-dwelling buildings. The staff received numerous inquires about making the ocean reachable to individuals with disabilities, and within a few months, Parks had installed mats for a trial run. The Commission will continue to work in Brighton Beach until all the targeted buildings are accessible.

“I congratulate the Parks Department on another victory for New Yorkers with disabilities,” said Commissioner Sapolin. “We are happy to celebrate yet another example of how the City of New York is becoming more accessible for all New Yorkers.

The Parks Department’s goal is to provide access and opportunity, going above and beyond mere compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide access as well as increased opportunities for recreation and participation. Visit us at for more information on accessibility, including playgrounds and centers with programming and field trips, free Aquatic Therapy Instruction, Wheelchair Basketball and Football, Quad Rugby, and more.

Parks has been aggressive in our goal of accessibility – a few examples of Parks programs include:

  • Playgrounds for All Children have accessible play equipment, and at many playgrounds, Parks has programming that reaches out to children with special needs from across the city. School field trips, a yearly carnival, and other special events include face painting, entertainment, and arts & crafts;
  • Greenbelt Recreation Center in Staten Island and the soon-to-open Fowler Recreation Center in Queens have accessible equipment and features;
  • The Flushing Meadows Corona Park Pool and Ice Hockey Rink, opening in the fall, will have an Olympic-size public pool with adjustable floors to accommodate small children and people with disabilities. The NHL-standard ice hockey rink will be equipped for sled hockey.
  • Owen-Dolen Center in the Bronx provides field trips for disabled children on Saturdays, as well as a summer day camp;
    Graniteville Outreach and Therapeutic Recreation Center in Staten Island provides programs and workshops for all special needs groups;
  • Free Aquatic Therapy at five locations citywide;
  • Wheelchair Basketball, Football, Softball, and Quad Rugby;
  • Accessible camping every weekend in July and August with the Urban Park Rangers with accessible tents; and
  • Accessible New York City beaches.
  • This summer’s season of “It’s My Park” on NYC TV documents a wide variety of free Parks activities for people with disabilities in every borough, including Wheelchair Tennis instruction in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. To watch It’s My Park! videos on wheelchair accessible facilities in New York City parks, search at

Directions to Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk

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