Life’s a Kiddie Beach

The waters near Gerritsen Beach are clean, clear and under control, locals say, as about 200 residents flocked to Shell Bank Creek on Saturday for the opening day celebration of the beloved Kiddie Beach, and most had no qualms about swimming in water that four local businesses had allegedly used as a sewer for nearly a decade.

“I think the water is pretty safe and haven’t heard many people expressing concern,” said George Broadhead, president of the Gerritsen Beach Property Owners Association, which owns the plot of sand off Lois Avenue.

The Shell Bank Creek shore has been a private enclave for Gerritsen Beach residents since the Property Owners Association bought the land from the city in 1922. Folks who live in the neighborhood that’s east of Knapp Street and south of Whitney Avenue can gain access to the beach all summer for $300 per household or $150 per individual.

But in December, locals learned that managers and owners from four businesses about a quarter mile away, including a United Artists multiplex, were arrested for ignoring leaky pipes that deposited raw sewage, grease and fecal matter into Shell Bank Creek. Swimming with sewage and fecal matter can cause a fair share of infections, including giariasis, a parasitic infection of the small intestine that causes nausea and diarrhea.

But the city said that they fixed the pipes and cleaned up the dump in a few weeks. In addition, officials stressed that waste would flow out of the creek.

“It seems all taken care of.” said resident Maryanne McLinden, whose two children frolicked in the water on Saturday.

Opening day at Kiddie Beach was asuccess, but there are some residents who are steering clear of the previously murky waters.

“That’s really not the water for me,” said Kathy, who declined to give her last name. “I’ve actually always been apprehensive about [swimming there.]

The alleged dumpers, who also include Knapp Street Bagels, TGIFriday’s and Deauville Marina, have not been convicted, but face thousands of dollars in fines, according to Jonah Bruno a spokesman for the district attorney. The three managers and landlord arrested could also be sentenced to up to four years in jail.

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