The Riis Park Bathouse. Renovated and ripe for privatization
Riis Park, The People’s Beach, Rockaway, QUEENS, N.Y.
In a rare bit of good news regarding parkland infrastructure, the historical landmark art-deco bathhouse pavilion in Riis Park as been re-opened after going through over 5 years of renovation following the devastation from the impact of hurricanes Sandy and Irene.
Unfortunately, the grand re-opening is marred by the privatization of the entire structure by the Riis Beach Bazaar collective of overpriced food concessions, a bevy of bars and the return and occupation of space for the still mind-boggling stupid and unjustifiably expensive luxury tent dwelling concept Camp Rockaway in a merger into a mindless frivolous spending consumption attraction and destination.
Now back in 2016, a nice park ranger gave a tour of the refurbished ground floor and the nice park superintendent remarked that to ensure the upkeep of the pavilion, it would have to come from private funding. Even though a few weeks before this report, the city received 47 million dollars in FEMA funds dedicated to rebuild and repair all structures that were destroyed along the peninsula in the last storm.
That the bathhouse is currently being occupied by an organization that was once sponsored by a local news blog and an idiotic concept that relied on crowdfunding just as recent as last year is quite unexpected and certainly needs more digging into if they can afford to lease the federal landmark building. Not much is known about who is funding this collective, presumably those pesky, sneaky private equity and venture capital firms along with various lobby or real estate firms and probably property owning mysterion LLC’s, but somehow they have clearly conquered the entirety of the “people’s beach” and turned it into an ersatz Brooklyn/Disneyland.
As for Camp Rockaway, it is quite the anomaly and absurdity. Last year at the end of summer and continuing into November, they drove their stakes and placed their settlement on an unused football field, complete with a still present field goal post. But now that they joined forces with the Bazaar, this summer its glamour tents are placed in the backyard lot of the bathhouse. For the stunning price of $195 on the weekdays and $245 on the weekend, families and couples can enjoy the wonders of nature by traipsing on the “campground’s” filthy tire-tracked sand with speckles of depleted grass.
To capture the experience of “roughing it” and integrating it with what is described as “wellness”, the tents are furnished with mattresses, lamps, linens and dressers along with a phone charging station. Just like in actual real life nature.
Not mentioned is the illuminating of room freshener candles to soothe your senses as you drift into blissful slumber until hordes of people from Queens and Brooklyn and beyond head for the beach to enjoy it for free.
If the people of the “people’s beach” knew what they are missing! If the people had more disposable income than stagnant income, they can further mindlessly spend on the various amenities that Camp Rockaway decided not to include on their two c-note a night dirt nap dwellings. Like paying nightly tolls at the Riis Park parking lot, one of the biggest in the nation! For the times you get parched and need protection from nasty entomological creatures buzzing around, there are empty water bottles for you and mosquito repellent to purchase if you’re stupid enough not to bring your own, and if you are already spending 200 bucks to sleep overnight in a tent in a public beach, chances you already are.
You can bring your own food but it has to be prepared and you need to eat it all up because the only genuine thing about this campsite is that it has no refrigeration to store your rations. It’s okay because they advise their guests to take their food back to their hot cars if they have anything leftover. Which is what any seasoned camper would do if one doesn’t possess an igloo cooler.
Just like in actual campsite’s and thanks to the new restoration, the showers are available for use once you start to stink after festering in your tent and sojourning on the beach and nearby towns foraging for food and booze that you’re not allowed to keep in your temporary abodes.
If there are any worries about intruders, who may be tempted to breach the “campground” either through climbing over the gate or cutting the rusty chains and locks on the gates with the knowledge of easy marks willing to spend exorbitant sums would likely have expensive possessions like thousand dollar cellphones containing a wealth of personal data, various credit cards, and other disposable cash, the geniuses behind this malignant concept assures that the national parks dept has rangers patrolling the beach all day and night long for the guests protection at the taxpayers expense.
Unfortunately no alcohol is allowed and it’s lights out at 10 p.m. at Camp Rock. There sure are a lot of rules that you have to abide by. Which makes this campground resemble more like a scientology recruit settlement than the neighborly community vibe they are trying to commodify. And it also kills the tranquil vibe and escape from civilization that real camping provides, since according to their activities page, the only thing to pass the time is to spend and spend and spend at, natch, the nearby Riis Beach Bazaar.
Speaking of the R.B.B., their little concept of bringing the blandest of Brooklyn’s designer food and social media culture has been the recipient of good fortune at the misfortune of other locales and transit service. Land erosion at one of the most popular spots in Rockaway led to the City Parks Department to close the beaches down from B90 to B102 streets, which included the closure of the boardwalk (it has since been reopened for access), which has led to a noticeable upsurge in attendance at Riis.
pseudo-yachts ferries have been added, even though the city cut the free Hornblower bus service. There’s more frequent bus service, the Q53 from Woodside, the Q35 from Brooklyn, and even the rarely seen Q22 in Rockaway (which used to originate from Ozone Park), now heads towards Riis Park that historically has never seen this much bus transit activity probably in decades and arguably in the city bus services’ entire existence as every other bus line continues to be behind schedule.
The A train to Rockaway also has been rerouted going west to the 116th street station and suspended the Mott Ave. destination for the entire summer, leaving Far Rockaway residents to go through the inconvenience of getting off at the Holland St. Station and crossing over to the other side to go eastbound. But making it super duper convenient for the target demos, hipsters from Brooklyn and tourists, to take one straight ride to the desired area of the peninsula.
And to make things more convenient A train commuters, once they get off there will be plenty of bike share bikes out there ready to use and dispose of as they get to their destinations. Especially once the electronic motor share bikes are dropped on the streets.
This post may be a bitter hate read, but even the most naive person would find that there is a massive effort by the city and their parks dept and even the national parks dept. to make sure this luxury bazaar and camping merger is successful, all attributed to a combination of the extreme effects of climate change and the aforementioned improvements to transit service. When the city parks dept. shut down beaches 91 to 102st at the last minute before Memorial Day it caused widespread panic to the enraged community and the businesses there, notably the new bar/restaurants that only opened on the boardwalk just a few years ago. And it wasn’t like the city wasn’t warned of the gradual debilitation of the shoreline, because they have known for years prior to when Sandy hit and did nothing about it since in congruence with continuing disputes with FEMA officials in a display of shithead solidarity buck passing and willful indifference as 10,000 tons of cubic sand wasted away in less than two years.
Regarding this closure, which is going to take a speculated two years to replenish it, it’s starting to look like the area in front of the Riis Bathhouse might have some apparent erosion issues of it’s own. Judging by the disturbing ponding by the boardwalk.
Will this also get the proper attention and will it merit the the same severity from the city as the measures they took to shut down the former popular beaches by Rockaway Park???
“Why see the world, when you got the beach”
Frank Ocean, “Sweet Life”
The Riis Park Bathhouse’s return is a no doubt a great thing, but it’s too bad it’s not being utilized for it’s intended use as a facility for the citizens and is being privatized this way to cultivate and manufacture a homogenized hip hangout and some sort of luxury destination with that stupid camp. As for the latter, this is actually a thing that’s been going on in other federal parks, most recently and more insanely at Governor’s Island.
Even the bike share program, after only a few days, is already starting to become a blight on the beach.
But it’s doubtful that any action be taken or the slightest concern will be taken here. There is obviously a lot being invested that it’s taken precedence over the worrying concerns of smaller businesses that enthusiastically opened up and the residents enjoying the sun, sand and surf in Rockaway. In addition to the further neglect and inequity of services that are plaguing throughout the boroughs that favor pleasure seekers over the working classes in general. And monetizing the one free amenity and destination for people who can’t afford to go to the Hamptons or jetset to island and beach resorts around the world.
The effects of climate change and global warming are existential threats that must be combated, but it’s not as big as the current threat by the city to irresponsibly sell out public space and services for lame entrepreneurs trying to turn every locale into Brooklyn food and beer festival.
When will this bullshit stop? Probably another bitch hurricane. But it didn’t stop this collective of climate deniers before and it certainly won’t this time despite any documented evidence. For these elected and appointed officials, absolutely nothing will get in the way of monopolizing parkland for frivolous spending idiocy, and most of all the profits for their sponsors and investors.
It’s all fucking insane.