NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In a one-of-a-kind opportunity, the small beach beneath the Brooklyn Bridge was open to the public for a few hours Saturday.

As CBS2’s Clark Fouraker reported, it needs some sprucing up, but it’s already attracting a big crowd.

Kayaks made with cardboard and tape raced in the waters to raise awareness about the small stretch of Manhattan’s coastline under the bridge that’s usually closed.

“All my friends I know they go to Jones Beach or Brooklyn or somewhere else just to have a beach. But if we had one here, that would be really nice,” said Emily Xu.

“This is just another stretch of water that can be built up and enjoyed by everybody,” Nicole Alcamirano said.

Most people told Fouraker they’d like to see the beach open year round.

But past development attempts have had hiccups. The city says there are concerns about safety and water cleanliness. Those concerns led the city’s Economic Development Corporation to scram the latest plan in 2016.

Drawings show a larger sand beach and kayak launch for people to enjoy the water without having to leave Manhattan.

“There’s hundreds of places like this all around all five boroughs and in New Jersey that could be open, and we want to show it can be done safely, it can be done for fun,” said Roland Lewis, president and CEO of the Waterfront Alliance.

“Depending on the tide and if permissible, sure how great would it be? I think even if at least they had the sand for the beach, I’ll take it,” Drew Kerr said.

The developer of newly completed Pier 17 said he’d like to see development continue north, toward the beach park.

“We’re working very closely with the elected officials,” said Saul Scherl, of Howard Hughes Corporation.

While not all of the cardboard kayaks made it out into the water and back to the shore in one piece, organizers said the enthusiasm for the competition shows there’s a strong interest in the beach being open more often.