Sands of grime: Markowitz’s 40-year-old prediction about Plumb Beach never came true

Mark his words: Marty Markowitz’s dream of a primped-up Plumb Beach never quite came true.
Brooklyn Daily
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He was hoping for a shore thing!

Locals recently sounded off on the sorry state of Jamaica Bay after a storm loosened debris lodged in Plumb Beach, inundating Shell Bank Creek boats with a deluge of garbage. Former borough president and then-state senator Marty Markowitz bet in the late 1970s that the Belt Parkway-bisected beach could be a recreation destination with a little tender love and care, but the grand prediction proved to be more of a sand castle — the federally owned park land remains one of Brooklyn’s more perilous public spaces.

A Gerritsen Beach man stumbled on hundreds of needles and other medical waste washed up on Plumb Beach’s shores in November — reminiscent of the Syringe Tide that washed over New York a decade after Markowitz called on Washington to make Plumb Beach the next “it” park. The city’s sanitation department removed the recently discovered needles after pressure from a local pol.

And last year the feds, who supposedly maintain the greensward as part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, threatened to deep-six dozens of feral cats who lived in a colony Brooklyn cat fanatics built there.

The beach lost its biggest booster when presidential candidate Barry Deutsch died in 2012. The retired attorney and anti-globalization T-shirt magnate spent his summers combing the sands for garbage and hanging out in a makeshift Shanggri-la there.

Still, the beach isn’t as bad as it was in the 1970s, when bathers had to contend with discarded tires and mattresses in addition to the still-par-for-the-course needles and Coney Island Whitefish. Here’s a look at the fetid waterfront circa 1977 — and young Markowitz extolling the repulsive strand.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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