There was no eleventh hour rescue for Cedar Grove, no life preserver for the 99-year-old beach community on Staten Island’s South Shore, the last of its kind. Despite resident’s best hopes, the politicians and preservationists backing the Grovers could not reach a deal with the Bloomberg administration or the Parks Department to save the bungalows at least for another season, to say nothing of another century. Even Andrea Peyser — Andrea Peyser! — couldn’t woo them.
Grovers still maintain there is no reason to spend good money tearing down a good beach — it’s much cleaner than its city-owned neighbors — that pays $140,000 to the Park’s Department every year to exist. It will cost millions of dollars in capital money to tear down the houses and reopen the stretch next year, which is and has always been publicly accessible. At the same time, beaches across the city, including some just up the shore, have been closed due to lack of funds. Never mind that the city is so desperate for money that it is considering selling off its parking meters to fill the widening budget gap.
At midnight Saturday, Cedar Grove was no more. Parks police was on hand to see to that, according to the News:
Parks Department officers guarded the club’s gate as members carried out their belongings. “It’s been tough because I’ve been finding a lot of old family memorabilia,” said John Murphy, 52.
The Staten Island Advance has been covering the saga closely and has its own tale of woe:
The season at Cedar Grove Beach Club opened each year with the raising of American flags from each of the 41 bungalows. [Saturday], those same flags were flying upside down. “It signals a vessel in distress,” said Roy Wood, a retired Sandy Hook pilot. After nearly a century, time has run out for Cedar Grove. Its lease with the city expired yesterday, an occasion made even grayer by the rain.
Edith Holtermann pulled the remaining produce from her garden. Mick Kenny took one last view from his back deck. Jennifer Fitzgerald-Young stood on her porch with her daughter, Elizabeth, who at 9 months is Cedar Grove’s youngest resident. Eric Lesnick hoisted his 5-year-old daughter, Lillianna, in his arms.
“We will miss you,” she scribbled on a bungalow wall.