Southern Brooklyn

City Seeks New Uses For Decrepit Manhattan Beach Bathhouse


The New York City Parks Department revealed the results of a three-year feasibility study, determining new potential uses for the Manhattan Beach bathhouse, a dilapidated Parks building that has been closed to the public for half a century.

The report, commissioned three years ago with a $125,000 budget allocation from Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, recommends reactivating the building by turning it into an energy-efficient structure with upgraded Parks Department and NYPD administrative offices, sheltered and external storage space, larger bathrooms for beachgoers, fitness facilities and some solar power.

But the plan also features a 6,500 square foot section – approximately a third of the building – for unidentified community use, and the department is turning to residents to find out what they want.

At a press conference yesterday afternoon, Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey joined Cymbrowitz to solicit ideas, some of which included a spa, restaurant or cafe, solar farm, cultural center and/or museum, environmental science laboratory, concert venue and, lo and behold, even a bathhouse, with lockers and showers.

The building opened in 1955, but closed 10 years later when it was determined that it could not adequately accommodate the number of people at the beach. With the exception of the restrooms, the building has since served as storage space for the Parks Department with meager administrative offices for Parks police, lifeguards and police units on summer patrol.

Local leaders have long been calling for the building’s rehabilitation, but community members have had divergent opinions on what should be done with the property.

The Manhattan Beach Community Group recommends turning the entire building into a solar farm that would feed back into the city’s system in exchange for lower electricity rates for the community.

According to MBCG President Ira Zalcman, who was interviewed by the Parks Department as they developed the study, his group consulted with solar companies about the idea, and they found that the building could house enough solar panels to cover 10 percent of the community’s needs.

“That estimate was made five years ago,” Zalcman said. “I’m sure the technology now could do even more.”

That idea was seconded by Cymbrowitz’s rival in the September 13 primary election, Ben Akselrod.

“I support the community’s proposal for solar panels on top of the building. In addition I propose to create a child friendly sports center inside the building to be used by children with adult supervision,” Akselrod said in a release issued earlier this month.

But the folks over at Manhattan Beach’s other civic group, the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association, are pushing a more traditional approach. President Alan Ditchek, who was also interviewed for the study, said he favors restoring it to a bathhouse.

“There should be showers and lockers. There should be enhanced toilet facilities, perhaps a small cafe in the front facing the beach. I thought the original concept of a bathhouse should be restored and improved. We felt you didn’t need to reinvent the wheel; a bath house is sorely needed there,” Ditchek said. “Families, when they come off the beach, should not be forced to use the water fountains to wash the sand off.”

The idea being pushed by Assemblyman Cymbrowitz is for a community cultural center that would give space over for art and history exhibitions, especially focused on the diverse immigrant communities of Southern Brooklyn.

That idea was seconded by MBNA’s executive boardmember Edmond Dweck.

“Basically [a cultural community center] seems to be something extremely acceptable and makes a lot of sense because of the demogaphics that live in our district,” Dweck said. “What Steve is looking to promote is what makes sense for the people. Not just the people of Manhattan Beach, but for the people of the entire district … Why not make Manhattan Beach some kind of destination point?”

But an “immigrant center,” as some in the neighborhood have started calling the proposal, is not what other Manhattan Beach leaders say they want, including both Ditchek and Zalcman, who rarely agree on anything.

“I don’t really understand what’s going to be there. A cultural center? To do what? To show off the history? I’m not sure how that helps the beachgoers,” Ditchek said.

“That’s not something for everybody,” agreed Zalcman. “Nobody – not one person in this community – has suggested an immigrant center. Not one person.”

During yesterday’s announcement, Cymbrowitz strenously emphasized that no plans were set in stone, and repeatedly said that the study was just the very first phase in a long process to finding a desirable use and prodding the city to move forward.

“These are not formal plans. This is the beginning of a discussion,” Cymbrowitz said. He repeated that phrase several times during the announcement.

Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo noted that no one should get riled up about any of the proposals, as there’s at least one major obstacle to clear before the city moves forward on anything.

“There is no money for this. It’s a feasibility study to see what could be done but if there’s no money allocated, it’s not going very far,” Scavo said. “And I didn’t hear anything about a dollar amount.”

If you have a suggestion for new uses of the Manhattan Beach bathhouse, you may send them to Assemblyman Cymbrowitz who will forward them to the Parks Department.

Comment policy


  1. In the winter, it should be a place where people can go in, play cards, backgammon, chess, checkers, etc. Would be nice for  the seniors, and that doesn’t cost much money to do.

        In the summer, make it an instant court, and drag in all  the people that litter, hit them with a $25 fine. Nothing expensive, but just enough to keep the beach cleaner.

    Whatever happens, you can be sure it will take 5 years or more in this town. Between the regulations, permits, then the inevitable lawsuit, five years is probably way too conservative.

  2. There is no reason both plans cannot work. No matter what there should be solar panels on the building providing energy for the building. However I find the idea that only the residents of Manhattan Beach should benefit from this preposterous. They are wealthy enough. Why should they and they alone benefit from a discount? The energy would be collected on City property, so what claim do they have? No. That energy should go to cover The Bath House and KBCC. If there is any left then the local businesses along Oriental Blvd should get first crack at an energy discount/subsidy IF and only if they provide a discount to customers.

    In the summer the building should provide an air conditioned rec room/cafeteria with a locker room, bathrooms and showers. In the off season months the room should remain for varied community use and be available for rent for private functions.

    The Summer Cafe, however it’s done, should be prohibited from charging exorbitant rates because they have hostage customers. The vendor at Jacob Riis in Rockaway charges $4 for a bottle of soda that normally costs 1.75 at a vending machine. What kind of bullshit is that? It’s possible to turn a profit without gouging people. They could make a contract with just about any of the Fast Food Van companies that been a fad the last few years to come take the spot for a few months or rotate with a guest vendor every week.

  3. Just bulldoze the place – it has been a dump for years.  It is a hangout for prostitutes and junkies.  If you take it away, they will go away also.  Nothing is going to get done there, we all know how our civic association, and polititions work.  There is nothing in it for the pols to line their pockets with, and the civic association, well, what can I say about it?  They have never ever accomplished anything worthwhile, and never will.

  4. What ever the Parks Dept. does to rehab the place, let’s hope they steer clear on any of the vendors involved in the Marin Park Field House conversion. Who knows when THAT project will ever be finished!

  5. It will be just another waste of time and money, like the building in Marine Park. That thing is never going to get finished.

  6. Knowing Bloomberg, if it becomes a bathouse it will no longer be free. They will charge you $3 to shower and change plus additional fees for locker storage. I still think it should be used or it’s intended purpose, a bathhouse and should be free.

    Also I’m pretty sure it was closed in 1975 during the City budget crisis, not 1965 because I remember using it which I never woud have done in 1965.

  7. Arthur, there’s still a concession stand in Manhattan Beach. And, as you already guessed, it’s a ripoff. I forget what I paid for the soda, but it was overpriced, and mostly filled with ice.

       Oh, there are vending machines on Manhattan Beach. A  20 oz Gatorade is THREE DOLLARS. Oh my gosh, I chose the water fountain instead of giving in to thievery. 

  8. Good gosh, they have got to investigate that Marine Park farce. I remember talking to a friend on the phone in 2004, I was sitting nearby looking at, that thing was under construction at that time.

  9. I think that the idea of free water is abhorrent to Bloomberg. A free shower is lost DEP revenue. So the city will very likely charge for the use of the facility.

    And while the story that it was closed due to overutilization sounds almost plausible you are correct, it was the budget crisis that closed it down temporarily. Somehow it turned into a permanent closure.

  10. bathhouse!! with lockers and nice bathrooms.  and a cafe (get rid of that awful concession that is there now) – maybe a shake shake or an in and out burger …. and replace the broken sidewalks and picnic tables too AND fix the damn fencing at the far end and renovate the basketball courts!  Manhattan beach park is falling apart.. nothing has been done in the way of renovating, except for the kids park, in decades.  did the park really need to spend 125,000 to figure this out? NO… all they had to do was go TO Manhattan beach park and talk to the people who use it… and force the people who rent the parking lot to CLEAN IT UP and repave.. and put more garbage cans by the picnic tables sheeeesh.

  11. ooops one more thing…  get the parks police to ENFORCE the rules, especially at the bbq area.  these cops turn a blind eye to every single infraction… the misuse of garbage cans to prop up bbq’s, the LOUD MUSIC from those people who bring an entire sound system and set it up under a tent by the BBQing (not everyone wants to hear YOUR music blasting all day) and especially disposal of bbq garbage…  which ends up ON the beach and ultimately in the water…  I have no idea what those parks cops do all day but what they don’t do is enforce the parks rules…  they ride back and forth around the park but they seem BLIND to whatever is happening around them. The neighborhood wants to get rid of the BBQin but what the real problem is, is that the parks cops dont police the bbq area…. if they DID most of the problems would disappear

  12. I’m pretty sure that the community, probably the Manhattan Beach Community Group asked that it remain closed if the City offered to reopen it after the budget crisis was over.

  13. The neighborhood does not want to get rid of the barbecues, only a small group of people who do not represent the community and only speak for themselves.

    The beach would be a lot cleaner if they wouldn’t have clustered all the beach garbage cans right off the promenade. Dumbest idea ever. If you are going to carry your garbage that far, you could walk a few feet more to the promenade. At least in Brighton, they put one of them in clusters in the center of the sand. But they should return to pacing them individually. Anything that’s less work for he Parks workers. So what if beach goers are nconvenienced.

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  15. […] The parks department is seeking proposals to reopen the Manhattan Beach Bathhouse, which has been cl… Current ideas include “a spa, restaurant or cafe, solar farm, cultural center and/or museum, environmental science laboratory, concert venue, and, lo and behold, even a bathhouse, with lockers and showers.” In other words, pretty much anything. [Sheepshead Bites] input, textarea{} #authorarea{ padding-left: 8px; margin:10px 0; width: 635px; } #authorarea h3{ border-bottom: 1px solid #B0B0B0; color: #333333; font-family: georgia; font-size: 19px; font-weight: normal; line-height: 22px; margin:0 4px 5px; padding-left: 8px;} #authorarea h3 a{text-decoration:none; color:#333; font-weight:bold} #authorarea img{margin:0 5px; float:left; border:1px solid #ddd; width:40px; height:40px;} #authorarea p{color:#333; margin:0} #authorarea p a{color:#333} .authorinfo{ } […]


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