The City of Long Beach is touting Long Beach’s summer season as a success, especially in light of the widespread damage Hurricane Sandy wrought last October.
From a city-issued pamphlet that recaps post-storm recovery efforts to announcements at council and
civic meetings, city officials are characterizing Long Beach’s post-storm
comeback as “solid” despite the potential for “doomsday” scenarios such as a
serious economic downturn and erosion of the tax base after the storm.
Manager Jack Schnirman told a crowd at the West End Neighbors Civic Association
on Sept. 18 that the questions he received most from residents and business owners
early this year revolved around whether the city could even have a
summer beach season and if businesses would be able to re-open and function.
“I’m very happy to report that we had a solid summer season,” Schnirman said at the meeting, held at the West End Community Center. “Most of our businesses have reopened. Those that haven’t, we’re seeing more and more still reopening in the West end.”
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Schnirman emphasized that the comeback was largely the result of a marketing
campaign the city pulled together to promote that “Long Beach is open for
business." The campaign was made possible by funds through the Empire State
Development Corporation and corporate sponsors, and it utilized television, print publications,
billboards and the Internet. He recalled the commercials that beckoned people
to post-Sandy New Jersey and New York State, as well one specifically for Long
Beach that featured a familiar celebrity.
“It worked out extra well that not only were we able to sort of win the money from New York state to get the advertising campaign, and raise some money from some corporate contributions as well, but we were able to get our hometown hero Billy Crystal to do the ads to really push us over the top,” the city manager said.
Due to city workers who helped replenish the beach before summer, which included replacing 104,000 cubic yards of sand lost during the storm, and thanks to an increased presence of blue-shirt police “specials” at beach entrances, beach attendance this summer was “quite solid," he said. Beach pass sales were slow at first, he explained, but they increased in June and got stronger as the season progressed. “July 4th was a record setter for us,” he said about beach attendance on the nation's birthday.
Although at last week’s meeting he didn’t cite attendance or revenue numbers to
ground his report, Schnirman said beach revenue is projected to be above
budget, as the city waits for the Long Island Rail Road to provide further financial
indicators. The Long Beach Herald reports Schnirman said elsewhere that beach
park revenue is expected to top the $2.8 million officials initially budgeted
Last week, Schnirman did report statistics regarding the work of Long Beach Lifeguards this summer. They engaged in 18,150 preventive actions, including 208 ocean swimmer assists, 48 water rescues, and, most importantly, no one drowned.
He also highlighted a few new initiatives that helped boost beach
attendance: a food truck “Shoregasboard” pilot program at Riverside Boulevard, which the city formed with the
assistance of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce and local businesses, as well as a
neighboring trapeze program and increased movie nights and concerts on the
Starting in late July, the city was able to start opening sections of the rebuilt Brazilian hardwood and concrete boardwalk, where the city and Long Beach Historical Society held two annual arts and crafts fairs respectively. In addition, the Chamber in July and September hosted two similar fairs comprised of local business owners that reportedly attracted thousands of people to Long Beach.
“It really ended up being a nice comeback summer for everybody,” Schnirman said.
Looking ahead to autumn and winter, the $44.2 million project to reconstruct the 2.2-mile boardwalk is on schedule for completion in November, and the marketing campaign will continue into fall, Schnirman said.
Sean Sullivan, whose West End restaurant, Swingbellys, was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy, said that while he was able to reopen on Memorial Day after
extensive renovations, some businesses fared better than others and some are
fretting over the winter months, since many residents remain displaced, the Herald reports. Sullivan said:
“For us it was OK. It was a decent summer, but not a great summer. My bigger concern is this winter. This summer it seemed like if it was nice out, people were coming, but there are a lot of people still missing in town; there’s still a lot of empty homes. On the positive side, a lot of homes were rebuilt, and I find it encouraging that many homes are getting lifted and people are deciding to stay. I’m hoping by next summer people are back.”
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