While many Canarsiens will be welcoming in summer this Memorial Day weekend by flocking to local recreation areas, one of the most popular of them will be marking the holiday by restricting access to it.
As of May 23, Canarsie Pier – long a popular destination for anglers and picnickers – will be closed to vehicular access from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. daily. In addition, the pier will be closed to all from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. everyday.
The changes, according to a press release from Gateway National Recreation Area, which is under the auspices of the National Park Service, are part of “An effort to improve the visitor experience” at the pier.
The rationale for the closure – which has been opposed by community members and elected officials since the issue first arose last year – is “to allow maintenance crews the opportunity to clean the pier” as well as to “address community concerns that the pier is sometimes used by transients who sleep in their cars for days or even weeks,” the press release said.
Gateway is “hiring additional temporary maintenance workers” to that end, according to the release, as well as utilizing new “high tech cleaning equipment that will address the issue of litter.”
Opposition to the nighttime closure – which intensified after a gate was put up last summer — remains firm.
Assemblymember Alan Maisel said that he had had, “A strenuous objection to the original plan, to close the pier at dusk. Personally, I think it should be open, especially since we got them to fix the lights, which was one of the big issues. When government authority can’t handle something, the solution is to close it. My solution is not to close it, but to correct the problem.”
Neal Duncan, the president of the United Canarsie South Civic Association, said that one of the big issues was nighttime fishing.
“I know the fishermen are quite adamant in that the great majority of them fish between those hours,” Duncan remarked. “They catch bluefish, striped bass and other fish they feel are in abundance during those time periods. If part of the point of the pier is the enjoyment of the fishermen, I don’t feel it should be regulated in that way. It’s objectionable.”
Duncan also said he really didn’t understand the rationale Gateway is using. Rather than closing the pier at certain times, he suggested, why not add funding for additional cleanup people. And, as for crime, he said, “I really don’t think it’s a high crime area. That’s not the issue.”
Gardy Brazela, the president of the Friends United Block Association, concurred. “My understanding, talking to the 69th Precinct, is I’m not sure there’s a lot of crime,” he noted.
Maisel, too, questioned the rationale for the impending nighttime closure. “They didn’t prove their case about vandalism,” he contended. What vandalism had been demonstrated, he noted, was, “The accretion of years. I certainly would have left it open.”