Nassau County now says it will close Nickerson beach to non-residents

Julia Marsh and Kate Sheehy

May 20, 2020

Originally published in New York Post on May 19, 2020.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran flip-flopped Tuesday and now says the county’s beach will be closed to non-residents till New York City reopens its beaches.

“As county executive, my No. 1 priority will always be the health and safety of our residents,” the Long Island pol said in a statement to The Post — soon after her office insisted no one would be barred from the county’s Nickerson Beach amid the coronavirus.

“In order to ensure Nassau residents can enjoy our only county-operated beach, I will sign legislation designating Nickerson Beach for Nassau residents’ use only,” Curran said, later adding through a rep that the ban would stay in place until the city’s beaches reopen.

The switch came about two hours after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio — still irked that Curran’s rep over the weekend said his decision to keep Big Apple beaches closed was “irresponsible and short-sighted” — insisted that Long Island should welcome everyone to its beaches. In response to the mayor’s comments at the time, Curran’s rep, Christine Geed, told The Post that Nickerson would remain open to all.

Geed later told The Post that her Democratic boss changed her mind overnight after talking to county legislators opposed to keeping the beach open to non-residents. The fear is that city residents facing closed beaches in the Big Apple will flock to their shores, creating dangerous crowds amid the contagion.

“Our legislators … are hearing from their constituents,” Geed said.

The spokeswoman said de Blasio’s comments about the issue earlier Tuesday had nothing to do with her boss’ sudden change of heart.

“We just think from a public-safety and health perspective it’s the right thing to do,” the rep said of the non-resident ban.

Geed said the county legislature is expected to overwhelmingly pass the beach’s closure to non-residents within the next day and that Curran will sign the measure Wednesday.

“I think that this will pass unanimously,” Geed said of the proposed legislation.

Jones Beach is run by the state and not affected by Nassau’s move. Otherwise, towns in Nassau that have beaches — including Oyster Bay, Hempstead and North Hempstead — make their own rules in terms of access.

Suffolk County closed its beaches to non-residents Monday.

A City Hall rep fired back Tuesday afternoon, “The fate of all of our whole region rests on New York City’s ability to continue to drive down this virus.

“Opening our beaches puts all our people and progress in jeopardy and would cause dangerous overcrowding on public transportation — a lesser factor in other areas,” said the spokeswoman, Jane Meyer.

“We understand the concerns of our neighbors and will continue to work with them, but what is important for all of us to focus on is limiting the number of people on beaches, not where they come from.”

But Democratic state Sen. Todd Kaminsky of Nassau ripped de Blasio further in a statement, saying, “It’s a shame Long Island has to turn away city beachgoers to protect its residents and ensure safe beaches, but until the mayor gets his act together and makes his own beaches safe, that’s the only responsible move.”