Design Commission Keeps Concrete Away From Coney Island Boardwalk
A controversial plan to turn much of the boardwalk running from Coney Island to Brighton Beach into a concrete walkway was stopped in its tracks by the City Design Commission Monday. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
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Several sections of the famed Coney Island boardwalk are made of concrete, as part of the city's plan to make the 2.5-mile stretch more durable and cost-effective.
The Parks Department has been pushing for more of the wooden planks to be replaced, but on Monday the City Design Commission voted down the proposal, much to the delight of area residents and preservationists.
"I think that it's great that the Design Commission has come to the conclusion that more environmental and engineering studies are required before this project goes forward," said Todd Dobrin of Friends of the Boardwalk.
"Feeling very, very victorious. We've been fighting for a little over two years to stop them from concreting the boardwalk," said Coney Island resident Bruni Figueroa.
In their latest presentation, Parks Department officials proposed a 12-feet concrete strip down the middle of the boardwalk with recyclable plastic lumber on each side.
Critics then got their say. Some brought broken concrete pieces from the walkway, while others showed pictures of the rapid wear and tear.
"Discoloration, patches on every single section, 20 by 4. This is a repair patch," said one opponent. "So you can see what the problem is with the understructure. It doesn't let the sand go in."
"When the waves come, where is that water going to go? Concrete is not durable, it's not porous," said another.
Some argued a boardwalk needs boards.
"I can't call it a boardwalk anymore. It's a cement structure, it's grainy, it's really hard on the foot," said one opponent.
"It's disgusting. Why do you want to put a garageway in the middle of Coney Island?" said another opponent.
Parks Department Chief Engineer John Natoli tried to explain the reason for the concrete breaking up less than a year after installation.
"This section represents a less than a tenth of a 1 percent failure rate. We rushed this section. We wanted to have this open for the season," said Natoli.
"The city Parks Department has repeatedly tried to underplay this, by saying this is superficial. Clearly these are not superficial issues," said Geoffrey Croft of New York City Parks Advocates.
Parks officials said they will evaluate the issues.