City Councilman Chaim Deutsch put the plan into play with Kingsborough Community College which will open its secluded beach to men and boys on Friday, June 29th and to women and girls on Friday, July 27th.
Beachgoers will be able to enjoy the sun and sand at no cost from 9 AM to 3 PM on both days, with free parking available on site, which is also convenient to public transportation.
Kingsborough’s beach season runs from June 23rd to September 3rd, but the beach and the campus are closed to the general public on Fridays throughout the summer season. College policy forbids cooking, loud music and alcoholic beverages on the beach.
The cost of the beach rental and complimentary parking on the two chosen days will be covered by private donations, said Deutsch. An unannounced rain date has also been scheduled with the college.
Deutsch said he was pleased to make the arrangements on behalf of Brooklyn’s Muslim and Orthodox Jewish residents, many of whom have never been to the beach before.
“It is a pilot program to give people who don’t go mixed swimming an opportunity to experience a day at the beach and enjoy the waterfront communities,” Deutsch told VIN News.
The idea for the beach days came to Deutsch last summer and he consulted with Muslim and Jewish leaders about the plan, although the beach would be open to members of all faiths on the designated days.
“All were very gung ho and since it was too late to do it last year, I prepared to do it this year instead,” said Deutsch, noting that he reserved the beach approximately three months ago.
Asked if he thought the plan might encounter the same type of opposition that a public pool in Williamsburg that offered separate swimming hours faced, Deutsch said that the comments on his Facebook announcement of the arrangement have been extremely positive.
Deutsch declined to share the price of the beach rental but according to The New York Post, Kingsborough spokesman Anthony Andrews put the cost at $400 per day, which includes lifeguards and other support staff. Andrews said that he did not know if the beach had ever been rented before for a public or private event.
The plan is all about inclusivity, observed Deutsch.
“Nobody should be disenfranchised because of their religious observance,” said Deutsch. “Offering these individuals the chance to have the same experience as everyone else is simply us practicing what we preach – equity and acceptance.”
Not surprisingly, the New York Civil Liberties Union, was not in favor of the plan, with executive director Donna Lieberman blasting it as “chutzpah.”
“People don’t have the right to impose gender discrimination on a city beach simply because it’s mandated by their religion,” said Lieberman. “It is one thing for the city to provide reasonable accommodation for religious practice, and quite another to limit the public access of everybody else.”