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Posts Tagged ‘Friends of the Boardwalk’

Boardwalk renovation 1934

The Boardwalk opened in 1923 and was already undergoing renovation in 1934: Group of men ripping up old planking on Coney Island boardwalk near Half Moon Hotel. Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection

On Monday, March 12th, the twice-postponed hearing before the City’s Public Design Commission to decide the fate of the Coney Island Boardwalk will finally take place. The Parks Department will lay out their plans for a Plasticwalk with a 12-foot-Concrete Roadway down the middle in Brighton Beach, claiming it will be more durable and less costly to maintain than the wooden Boardwalk in place for nearly nine decades.

The Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance and Friends of the Boardwalk will present their plan to “Keep the Boards in the Boardwalk” (also the title of an online petition) by using sustainable wood and concrete supports, citing Ocean City, Maryland’s successful renovation of their Boardwalk in 2011. “The public is welcome to attend and give testimony,” according to the PDC’s website. The grassroots groups are urging Boardwalk lovers to show up in number and use their 3-minute time slot to read from their letters of support and research materials. If you are interested, email Rob Burstein of the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance at robburstein[AT]hotmail[DOT]com and he can email you a 3-minute segment to read.

Last year, the local community board, CB 13, voted 21-7 against the Concretewalk as well as the Plastic and Concrete compromise. At last month’s CB meeting at Coney Island Hospital, boos erupted when the compromise plan was mentioned. Alas, their vote is being ignored because New York City’s Community Boards are merely advisory boards. It is the Public Design Commission’s vote that counts. So who are the ten people who will decide the fate of the historic Coney Island Boardwalk? Here are their names:

Alice Aycock, Sculptor
Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos, The New York Public Library
Byron Kim, Painter
Signe Nielsen, Landscape Architect
Guy Nordenson, Lay Member
Otis Pratt Pearsall, Brooklyn Museum
James Stewart Polshek, Architect
Paula Scher, Lay Member
Kandace V. Simmons, Mayor’s Representative
Ann G. Tenenbaum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Coney Island Boardwalk

New Boardwalk near Stillwell Ave, Coney Island. In a section in the amusement area, the reconstructed Boardwalk is wood over concrete slabs. February 20, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

According to their bios on the PDC’s site, the Commissioners are a distinguished group of architects, artists and representatives of the City’s cultural institutions. Yes, they are appointed by the Mayor, but they serve pro bono. At the last hearing in October, the Public Design Commission refused to approve the Parks Department’s plan and said that more environmental and engineering studies were needed to address the questions that they had.

Since then, it appears that the Parks Department has been lobbying the Commissioners and postponing the vote till they’re sure of a win. We were taken aback by the comments of two of the Commissioners in a New York Times article last month, which indicated they had been persuaded by Parks to support the plan in advance of the public hearing. Otis Pratt Pearsall who serves on the PDC as the representative of the Brooklyn Museum, has received numerous awards recognizing his leadership in preservation, according to his bio. Yet he told the Times: “I have pushed them to look at every possible wood alternative, and they have persuaded me that there aren’t wood alternatives that are practical. It is important to have the thing look as Boardwalk-y as possible.”

After the article was published, the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance sent each Commissioner a packet of research materials, which you can read on their website. “We wish to provide you with information that our experts have compiled that the Parks Department is either unaware of or has willfully ignored, thus denying you the opportunity to benefit from it in your decision-making process.”

It will be interesting to see what Pearsall and the other Commissioners have to say at Monday’s hearing. Can you sway their vote with your 3-minute spiel? Or is it a done deal? The Public Design Commission’s vote is expected soon after the hearing and will determine whether the future of the Coney Island Boardwalk will be wood or plastic and concrete.

IF YOU GO…
Public Design Commission, 253 Broadway, Conference Room on 5th floor. The building is near City Hall. “The Reconstruction of the Riegelmann Boardwalk, Brighton 15th Street to Coney Island Avenue” is on the agenda for 1:25 pm. Members of the public are encouraged to arrive at least 45 minutes in advance of the estimated time. Those who also plan to testify are encouraged to submit their testimony in writing in advance of the meeting date.

UPDATE March 12, 2012:

Christianna Nelson of the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance posted a summary of the hearing on the group’s website, which we recommend reading. ATZ will post a hearing update soon. In the meantime, here are our tweets:

UPDATE March 22, 2012:

My somewhat delayed rant about the public hearing on the Boardwalk reconstruction. Thanks to Bruce Handy for photos and H/T to East Coast Images for Counting Crows version of “Paved Paradise…”
The Coney Island-Brighton Beach Concretewalk Blues, ATZ, March 22, 2012

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

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December 8, 2014: City Councilman’s Proposal to Landmark the Boardwalk Could Halt Concretewalk

September 8, 2012: October 4: Coney Island’s Endangered Boardwalk to Get its Day in Court

March 23, 2012: The Coney Island-Brighton Beach Concretewalk Blues

January 24, 2012: Parks Postpones Do-Or-Die Hearing on Coney Concretewalk

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Coney island Boardwalk

Boardwalk Slats in the Snow. Photo © Bruce Handy. December 20, 2008. All Rights Reserved

The Parks Department has postponed to February 21 a hearing to win approval for its controversial plan to pave all but four blocks of the Coney Island Boardwalk with concrete and plastic wood. On Monday night, Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance’s Rob Burstein told ATZ: “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 Parks initiated the January 30 date to make their presentation, it appears that they are not yet ready to prove their case for concrete before the Public Design Commission. At the October hearing, PDC commissioners were skeptical of the need to use concrete and said that more environmental and engineering studies were needed to address the questions that they had.

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

“Please SAVE THE DATE, so that if it is confirmed we can all once again be sure to be there,” says Burstein of February 21. Public testimony is limited to three minutes per person. For more info, check out our previous post “Jan 30: NYC Design Commission to Meet (Again) on Coney Island Concretewalk,” (ATZ, January 20, 2012).

On Saturday, January 28th at 3pm, Burstein’s group and Friends of the Boardwalk are having an informational meeting at Brighton Beach Library. Email Rob Burstein at robburstein[AT]Hotmail[dot]com for details.

Meanwhile, an online petition to “Keep the Boards in the Coney Island Boardwalk–No Concrete” launched this month has eight-hundred-and something signatures and a goal of 5,000. If you didn’t sign yet, don’t complain when your feet ache from walking/jogging on the Concretewalk. Of course, if the Boardwalk does get paved, images like photographer Bruce Handy’s exquisite “Boardwalk Slats in the Snow” and “Sand on the Boardwalk” will be a rare sight.

UPDATE…March 24, 2012.
At the Public Design Commission’s charade of a public hearing about the reconstruction of the Coney Island Boardwalk. A ten-foot-wide Concrete Lane for so-called “emergency vehicles” and an adjoining Plasticwalk were unanimously approved by the Commissioners for a pilot project in Brighton Beach. “The Coney Island-Brighton Beach Concretewalk Blues,” ATZ, March 22, 2012

Coney Island Boardwalk

Sand on the Boardwalk. Photo © Bruce Handy. October 30, 2008. All Rights Reserved

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March 22, 2012: The Coney Island-Brighton Beach Concretewalk Blues

March 9. 2012: The 10 People Who Will Decide the Fate of 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

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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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Related posts on ATZ…

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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