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Posts Tagged ‘Brighton Beach’

Coney Island Boardwalk

Photos from Friends of the Boardwalk's website show the results of prior projects where the NYC Parks Department used concrete. Photos © Mary Ann De Luca via FOBConeyIsland.com

UPDATE…February 17...The Parks Department has once again postponed the date– February 21 — that they requested to present the Concretewalk plan to the Public Design Commission! We have no idea why–Perhaps they’re not ready? Perhaps they’re busy lining up support from the PDC commissioners? Perhaps they’re trying to throw off the grassroots opposition? The online petition to “Keep the Boards in the Coney Island Boardwalk – -No Concrete! and Save the Rainforests” continues to collect signatures.

UPDATE…January 23...The Parks Department has postponed the Concretewalk hearing date to February 21, says Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance’s Rob Burstein: “I just received an e-mail from the Parks Department’s liaison to the Design Commission informing me that they have postponed the date that they intend to present their proposal to the Design Commission. They will not present on January 30th, as we were originally told, but have tentatively rescheduled for February 21st.” Since the Parks Department initiates the date when they are ready to make their presentation, it appears that they are not yet ready to prove the case for concrete

On January 30 February 21, New York City’s Parks Department is expected to go back to the Public Design Commission to try again to win approval for its controversial plan to pave all but four blocks of the 2.7 mile Coney Island Boardwalk with concrete and plastic wood. At the last meeting in October, proponents of keeping the boards in the Boardwalk won a temporary victory when the PDC refused to approve the plan. The PDC commissioners, a distinguished group of architects, artists and representatives of the City’s cultural institutions, were skeptical of the need to use concrete. They also said that more environmental and engineering studies were needed to address the questions that they had.

Three months later, the PDC will likely be asked to reconsider the Parks Department’s plan at the January 30th February 21st meeting, according to Coney Brighton Boardwalk Alliance’s Rob Burstein. He is asking “others that care, to join us and speak against the plan at the Design Commission. I know that many people are with us in spirit, but we need them with us in body, as well as in soul. It’s only by showing up, that we have any chance of stopping this plan!”

On Saturday, January 21st and January 28th at 3pm, Burstein’s group and Friends of the Boardwalk are having informational meetings at Brighton Beach Library. An online petition to “Keep the Boards in the Coney Island Boardwalk” launched this month has several hundred signatures and comments like this one from Linda Distasi: “I grew up in Brooklyn. I think we should keep the Boardwalk as it was intended. There are other alternatives to concrete. Use them!!!!” (Only 700-and-something signatures? If you didn’t sign yet, don’t complain when it’s concrete.)

concrete boardwalk

Slab Walk: The new concrete slab section of the Coney Island boardwalk in Brighton Beach. October 26, 2011. Copyright © silversalty via flickr. All Rights Reserved

The photo mosaic at the top of this post is from a slide show on FOB’s website showing the results of prior Parks Department projects using concrete on the Boardwalk: the concrete substructure under recycled plastic lumber on Steeplechase Pier, concrete under wood in the amusement area and the concrete slabs replacing sections of the Boardwalk in Brighton Beach and in the West End of Coney Island, from West 33rd to West 37th Streets. The other two photographs by silversalty show the same spot on the Boardwalk in Brighton Beach. In 2009’s “A Walk in the Mist,” the Boardwalk is wood; in 2011 it is slabs of concrete.

Todd Dobrin, founder of Friends of the Boardwalk, who along with fellow members of Community Board 13 voted 21-7 last May against the Concretewalk, said in a statement:

The Parks Department has wasted millions of dollars on projects that were built through trial and error at the expense of NYC taxpayers. Instead of admitting to the public, the NYC Design Commission and the NYC Parks Commissioner the fact that the use of concrete has proven to be the root cause of these design flaws, they will attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the NYC Design Commission with questionable facts and a smoke and mirrors art show. I believe the Design Commission saw through the Parks Department’s blatant misinformation at the past meeting and will come to the same conclusion on January 30.

Public testimony at the NYC Public Design Commission meeting is limited to three minutes per person. The PDC office is in Manhattan at 253 Broadway, Fifth Floor, near the City Hall subway station. For information on the time of the January 30th February 21st meeting, which is set one week in advance, email Rob Burstein at robburstein[AT]Hotmail[dot]com or check the Boardwalk Alliance’s Facebook Page for updates.

Brighton Beach

A walk in the mist, Brighton Beach. April 3, 2009. Copyright © silversalty via flickr. All Rights Reserved

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January 5, 2012: New Year, New Push to “Keep the Boards in the Coney Island Boardwalk”

December 4, 2011: Brass Ring Dept: Coney Island “Carousell” RFP Up for Grabs

October 25, 2011: Coney Island 2012: Go Karts Return, Concretewalk Stopped

November 15, 2010: Nov 16: Concrete, Wood or Plastic? Discussion on Future of Coney Island Boardwalk

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concrete boardwalk

Slab Walk: The new concrete slab section of the Coney Island boardwalk in Brighton Beach. October 26, 2011. Copyright © silversalty via flickr. All Rights Reserved

The New Year brings a new petition from concretewalk opponent and founder of the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance Rob Burstein. “Keep the Boards in the Coney Island Boardwalk–No Concrete! and Save the Rainforests” is circulating among our Coney friends on Facebook and has already gathered more than 365 signatures out of goal of 5,000. Addressed to 23 elected and appointed officials, the petition’s goal is to put a stop once and for all to the Parks Department’s plan to pave all but four blocks of the 2.7 mile Boardwalk with concrete and plastic wood. Some parts of the Boardwalk, like the spot in the above photo, have already been paved as part of a pilot project. The petition says in part:

If the Parks Department has its way, the Boardwalk will be turned into a concrete sidewalk! Their explanation for this choice is the citywide dictate to limit the use of rainforest wood, but there are in fact many other options available. Send a message to New York’s Parks Department to tell them that the choice is not between saving the rainforest and saving the Boardwalk — the correct choice is to do both! Stop the use of rainforest wood, and replace it with one of the available sustainable domestic hardwoods such as Black Locust or White Oak for the surface decking (the part that we all see and on which we walk). The support structure underneath should be made from recycled plastic lumber, which the U.S. Army has used to build bridges that support tanks and locomotives. This design would be both cost-effective and desirable, and, most importantly, would preserve the basic elements of what makes the wondrous Coney Island Boardwalk a boardwalk.

Brighton Beach

A walk in the mist, Brighton Beach. April 3, 2009. Copyright © silversalty via flickr. All Rights Reserved

The last time ATZ wrote about the proposed concretewalk was in October, when the City’s Public Design Commission refused to approve the Parks Department’s plan. The PDC, a distinguished group of architects, artists and representatives of the City’s cultural institutions, told Parks that more environmental and engineering studies were needed to address the questions that they had.

According to a report on the blog A Walk in the Park, no one on the commission supported the use of concrete. “Why do we need the concrete at all,” one commissioner said. It was a victory for concretewalk opponents, winning time to organize more support for keeping the boards in the Coney Island Boardwalk.

UPDATE, March 13, 2012…

For an update read “The 10 People Who Will Decide the Fate of Coney Island Boardwalk” (ATZ, March 9, 2012)

The Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance’s website http://savetheboardwalk.wordpress.com went live on March 5, 2012 while an online petition continues to gather signatures.

concretewalk

Toeing the Line. Brighton Beach, New York. October 26, 2011. Copyright © silversalty via flickr. All Rights Reserved

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February 29, 2012: Exclusive: Coney Boardwalk Group’s Letter to PDC Rebuts Parks

December 4, 2011: Brass Ring Dept: Coney Island “Carousell” RFP Up for Grabs

May 5, 2011: May 7: Coney Island Boardwalk Trash Can Art Contest

November 15, 2010: Nov 16: Concrete, Wood or Plastic? Discussion on Future of Coney Island Boardwalk

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Boardwalk Sunset Cruise

Boardwalk Sunset Cruise. October 13, 2008. Copyright © silversalty via flickr. All Rights Reserved

Coney Island’s world-famous, 2.7-mile Boardwalk is listed among America’s Best Beach Boardwalks by the travel editors at National Geographic, Travel + Leisure and USA Today. Will it qualify for this honor if only four blocks in the amusement area remain wood and the rest is paved with concrete and plastic wood? A Parks Department spokeswoman told Brooklyn’s Courier News that concrete was chosen because it’s about $40 per foot cheaper than real wood.

The Bloomberg administration’s plan to pave the Coney Island Boardwalk will be voted on by the City’s Public Design Commission. A friend forwarded the info that the PDC hearing is at 10:30 am on Monday, October 24th. It is recommended that you get there at 10 am to sign in. “Please bring others if you can as this is our best chance to defeat this,” writes Rob Burstein of the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance. The local Community Board voted 21 to 7 against the plan in May, but their vote was ignored because New York City’s CBs are advisory boards.

News stories about the Boardwalk redo gave the impression that the Public Design Commission vote was a foregone conclusion, possibly because the members are all Mayoral appointees. However, after reading the letter from Burstein and Friends of the Boardwalk’s Todd Dobrin, we took a closer look at the Design Commission. “The Gatekeepers,” a report in the Architect’s Newspaper, described the PDC as “little known to the public and a mystery even to many architects.” Commission members are a distinguished group including architects, artists and representatives of the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library. They serve pro bono. Hey, we think it’s worth a shot. It could be your last chance to save Coney Island’s Boardwalk from becoming a Concretewalk.

PLEASE SAVE THIS DATE: MONDAY, OCTOBER 24TH
WHERE: NYC PUBLIC DESIGN COMMISSION,
253 Broadway (opposite City Hall), 5th floor, New York, NY
TIME: TO BE ANNOUNCED AND FORWARDED

Dear friends and neighbors:

I’m writing to ask you to join us on Monday, October 24th, at the NYC Design Commission. There will be a hearing about the proposed plan to replace the iconic Brighton Beach and Coney Island boardwalk with concrete slabs. A small group of us showed up a few weeks ago to express our displeasure with this Parks Department’s proposal so the hearing was changed to the date above. This was so that the Commission could hear our objections regarding this plan for the boardwalk.

THIS IS OUR BEST CHANCE FOR DEFEATING THIS PLAN!We need a substantial number of people at this hearing to express their displeasure with the proposal. The people on this Commission have no idea what impact their decisions have on this community. As neighbors who enjoy the boardwalk and don’t want it turned into a sidewalk or driveway, I’m hoping to prevail upon you to join us and express your outrage at this horrendous plan. We all have too many responsibilities and too little time, but many of us are taking off from our jobs yet again in order to attend this most important meeting. Won’t you join with us? Your presence is important! This Commission is not an advisory body. They make the final decision as to whether or not this project goes forward. Please don’t let cynicism about the good it does to show up at a hearing such as this stop you from coming. It CAN make a difference! Look at what happened when enough of us showed up to object to construction of the proposed amphitheater in Asser Levy/Seaside Park. This Commission stopped the plan because enough community members showed up to object. Please support us and our community once again. Please attend and tell your friends and neighbors to join us!

The time on the 24th will be announced in the next day or two and I will forward it on once it’s been set. Thanks for your consideration and support!

Rob Burstein, Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance
Todd Dobrin, Friends of the Boardwalk

UPDATE March 7, 2012:

The next public hearing at the Design Commission is set for Monday, March 12. For more info, see the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance’s new website.

UPDATE October 25, 2011:

Victory! ATZ is happy to report that the Design Commmission has stopped the Parks Department from going ahead with the concretewalk. NY1 covered the hearing — watch the video here. As Todd Dobrin of Friends of the Boardwalk says in the vid: “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.”

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Related posts on ATZ…

February 29, 2012: Exclusive: Coney Boardwalk Group’s Letter to PDC Rebuts Parks

May 5, 2011: May 7: Coney Island Boardwalk Trash Can Art Contest

November 15, 2010: Nov 16: Concrete, Wood or Plastic? Discussion on Future of Coney Island Boardwalk

January 2, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk, New Year’s Day 2010

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The Rabbi

Rabbi Abraham Abraham & Bob Stewart of the Coney Island Ice Breakers, 2009 Mermaid Parade. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Rabbi Abraham Abraham, the leader of the Ice Breakers Winter Ocean Swimmers of Brighton Beach, died on May 18, according to club spokesman Bob Stewart. “The Rabbi,” as he was called by his fellow swimmers, was a longtime member of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club until the 1990s when he broke away after a dispute and formed a club called the Ice Bears and then the Ice Breakers. The funeral will be held on May 19 at 2 pm at Beth David Cemetery in Elmont, Queens.

The elaborately mustachioed and white-bearded Rabbi was a colorful Coney Island character famous for his daily swims and annual New Year’s Day Swim at Brighton 6th Street. The Ice Breakers boast of having the largest number of active swimmers over 70 years of age (10 swimmers) and four members over 80 years of age. Stewart estimates that the Rabbi was 83 or 84, though he would never admit exactly how much over 80.

Rabbi Abraham Abraham’s zaniest personal accomplishment was probably living in an ice house for 110 hours (Guinness record ID 12729 claimant 12524) on the beach. We’ll never forget his royal antics as King of the Mermaid Parade in 1999. He was so full of fun that he kept jumping out of his rolling chair to dance a jig, which is something we haven’t seen a king do before or since. Photographers loved him, of course. With his white hair and flowing beard, the Rabbi was probably the king who most resembled Neptune. In this 2009 video he extols the health benefits of eating organic kosher food and winter swimming in the frigid waters of the Atlantic.

In the above photo taken by ATZ at the 2009 Mermaid Parade, the Rabbi rode in a pedicab due to a leg injury from what he said at the time was a parachute skydiving accident. “But it was bone cancer,” Stewart reveals. “They removed his thighbone and replaced it with a titanium rod.” The next year, he was once again walking the length of the parade route.

“He’s such a positive guy,” says Stewart. “He called me two weeks ago and said, ‘Bob, I’m dying. I need to see you.’ So I went over to his house. And then he said ‘listen, do you think we can do one more gig before I die?’ Here’s a guy on his deathbed and he wants to do one more something–swim, Mermaid Parade…” They agreed to ride the pedicab again in the Mermaid Parade, which takes place this year on June 18th. “But we knew it was getting close, it was day by day,” Stewart adds. The Ice Breakers are planning to march in the Parade with a photo of their departed leader.

But was he a real Rabbi? “He was able to show me his credentials–his clergy documents,” says Stewart, a Brighton Beach native who took up winter swimming as a teen without being part of an organized group. After getting to know the Rabbi as one of “the beach people,” Stewart joined the Ice Breakers. The Rabbi will be missed. “He was a very happy-go-lucky guy who didn’t preach in any synagogue. His place to preach was the beach.”

Rabbi Abraham Abraham

Rabbi Abraham Abraham Rings the Dreamland Bell at the Coney Island History Project. September 13, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita

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May 19, 2013: Rest in Peace: Steve Bitetzakis of Steve’s Grill House

March 16, 2012: Rest in Peace: Jerry Albert, Co-Founder of Coney Island’s Astroland Park

July 27, 2011: Coney Island Lost A Good Friend: RIP Andy Badalamenti

October 13, 2010: Rest in Peace: Scott Fitlin, Coney Island’s Eldorado Man

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Ruby’s Bar and Grill has long been a gathering place for Coney Island’s swimmers. Saturday, which could be Ruby’s last day, is no exception. “We’ll be there after our race,” tweeted Jesse Lansner of the Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS). Tomorrow’s 11 am race is the group’s first-ever Veterans Day 5K, 1 Mile and 2 Mile Charity Swim.

Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS). October 24, 2010. Photo © Princess Polar Bear Capri/Capri Djatiasmoro via flickr

Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS). October 24, 2010. Photo © Princess Polar Bear Capri/Capri Djatiasmoro via flickr

The event is a fundraiser for two organizations that serve veterans: Service Women’s Action Network and the Wounded Warrior Project. Registration to swim closed a few days ago, but info about pledging your support for Lanser and the other swimmers is available on CIBBOWS races page. More than 50 people have registered for the race. You may donate online or pay by check on race day before the swim.

Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS). October 16, 2010. Photo © Princess Polar Bear Capri/Capri Djatiasmoro via flickr

Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS). October 16, 2010. Photo © Princess Polar Bear Capri/Capri Djatiasmoro via flickr

ATZ emailed Lansner to ask where the race starts and the best place for spectators to see the swimmers…

The swim starts at the Aquarium at 11:00 am. All swimmers will head towards the pier, aiming for the cross section near the end of the pier, so they will be approximately 150-200 yards offshore. The 1-mile swimmers will return to the Aquarium and exit the water. The 2-mile swimmers will continue to approximately Brighton 2nd Street, then turn around and return to the Aquarium. The 5K swimmers will also turn around at Brighton 2nd Street, then swim back to the pier again, and then return to the Aquarium and exit the water.

The best viewing options are between the Aquarium and the pier (or even on the pier), since that is the area that the swimmers will spend the most time in. Also, if you are by the Aquarium, you can see the swimmers enter and exit the water, and watch them shiver and dance around to keep warm.

CIBBOWS is a non-profit community resource for open water swimmers of all levels. The group sponsors Grimaldo’s Mile Race in June, the Aquarium 5K and 1 Mile in August, and group swims every weekend from April to November. For more information visit CIBBOWS website and the blog Salty Tales.

Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS). October 16, 2010. Photo © Princess Polar Bear Capri/Capri Djatiasmoro via flickr

Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS). October 16, 2010. Photo © Princess Polar Bear Capri/Capri Djatiasmoro via flickr

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Vintage Postcard of Henderson's Music Hall Stage in Coney Island. Cezar Del Valle Collection

Vintage Postcard of Henderson's Music Hall Stage in Coney Island. Cezar Del Valle Collection

On Sunday at the Coney Island Museum’s Ask the Experts series, theater historian Cezar Del Valle will give an illustrated lecture to celebrate the launch of his Brooklyn Theater Index. The first volume covering theaters from Adams Street to Lorimer has just been published. The topic of his talk will be drawn from the third volume, a work-in-progress devoted to Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach.

The subject is timely, since one of Coney Island’s historic theater buildings, the former Henderson Music Hall at Surf and Stillwell, has been doomed to demolition. Pre-demo asbestos abatement is currently underway by Thor Equities despite preservationists efforts to save the building and make it part of an historic district.

Del Valle told ATZ that the Henderson Music Hall will be part of his talk. “Twice in the past, I have been asked to work on landmarking Henderson,” he says. “First on a panel and then in an advisory capacity. Sad to say, nothing ever came of it. I thought the building was being held hostage for some future bargaining ploy but I was wrong. If you went around to the Bowery side, a few of the windows still followed the rake of the old balcony.”

The Henderson was one of six buildings nominated for city landmark designation by Coney Island USA in 2004, although its chances were thought to be slim since the building has been altered extensively. It was even cut in half in 1923 when Stillwell Avenue south of Surf was created!

Del Valle’s area of expertise is New York City popular entertainment between 1850 and the 1950s, including special emphasis on actual theater buildings. He has led walking tours of the lost theaters of Coney Island’s Bowery. “In its fabulous heyday, the resort was more than just rides and arcades; it was home to numerous cabarets, variety halls and movie shows – a training ground for a generation of legendary performers,” says Del Valle.

If you’re able to make a day of it, Save Coney Island will be offering a free walking tour this Sunday at 11 am and every Sunday through the end of September. The guided tour covers the historic buildings along Surf Avenue as well as some of Coney Island’s existing landmarks. According to the group’s website, “we will have historic pictures so you can see what the buildings once were and a few renderings illustrating how these buildings could be creatively restored and reused.”

August 29, 4:30 pm, Ask the Experts! Cezar Del Valle’s Brooklyn Theater Index Book Launch, Coney Island Museum, 1208 Surf Avenue, Coney Island, $5 admission, Free for members of Coney Island USA.

August 29, 11:00 am, Save Coney Island’s Walking Tour of Historic Coney Island, meet in front of the Shore Theater, on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Aves, Rain or shine. Free, but suggested donation of $10 appreciated

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April 29, 2010: Photo of the Day: Interior of Coney Island’s Doomed Henderson Music Hall

March 8, 2010: March 23: Rescuing Coney Island’s Shore Theater from 35 Years of Neglect

February 23, 2010: Feb 24: Theater Historian’s Talk Puts Spotlight On Coney Island’s Lost Stages

October 9, 2009: A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island

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