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Posts Tagged ‘Parks Department’

A Life guard, Brighton Beach

A Life guard, Brighton Beach, N.Y. between 1901 and 1906. Library of Congress

The NYC Parks Department has scheduled qualifying tests to become a lifeguard for the 2016 summer season. The test is being held at Chelsea Recreation Center in Manhattan from December 7 through January 8, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm, and is also underway at pools throughout the five boroughs. A Parks spokesman tells ATZ that assignments are by seniority, but lifeguards may request a preferred or convenient location such as Coney Island or Brighton Beach. Beach lifeguards must be able to swim 440 yards in 6 minutes and 40 seconds and must also complete a 300-yard ocean swim prior to receiving their assignment.

To qualify, you must:
• Be at least 16 years of age by the start of employment (the end of June).
• Have at least 20/30 vision in one eye and 20/40 in the other – without corrective lenses. Glasses and contact lenses may not be worn during the eye exam.
• Be able to swim 50 yards in 35 seconds or less, with proper form.

Swimmers who pass the test will be enrolled in the Municipal Lifeguard Training Program, which is free, and consists of 40 hours of swimming and rescue techniques, first-aid and CPR. First-year lifeguards earn a minimum of $13.57 per hour for a weekly salary of about $650.

These vintage photos from the early 1900s show an all-male crew. It wasn’t until the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s that the Parks Department waived height and weight requirements and recruited its first female lifeguards.

Lifeguards Coney Island

Capt. Riley and lifeguards, Coney Island, N.Y.
between 1900 and 1905. Library of Congress

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USA Pavilion, Milan Expo 2015

Dignitaries on ‘Boardwalk’ made from Coney Island Boardwalk wood during May 1st opening ceremony of USA Pavilion, Milan Expo 2015. Photo via USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 Facebook

One day in the not too distant future, the wooden Coney Island Boardwalk may exist only in recycled form, far away from the People’s Playground, in venues frequented mostly by the privileged classes. The May 1st opening of the Milan Expo provides a window into that future. The Expo’s $60 million USA Pavilion boasts a 300-foot walkway said to be made of repurposed ipe wood from the Coney Island Boardwalk.

“The middle floor is a boardwalk, boardwalks have historically been avenues of food and community, and fun too!,” writes Dorothy Cann Hamilton, the President of the Friends of USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015. “We were able to purchase the actual Coney Island boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy.”

Milan Expo USA Pavilion Rendering

Architects rendering of Milan Expo’s USA Pavilion featuring a walkway of Coney Island Boardwalk wood. The $60 million pavilion project was privately funded by the James Beard Foundation, International Culinary Center and the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy. Biber Architects, New York

The project’s architect James Biber of Biber Architects, a New York City-based architecture firm, said in an interview on the Pavilion’s website that “Americans’ fascination with the road inspired our boardwalk concept, which is really the backbone of the whole experience. Visitors will take a trip through the USA Pavilion – up the boardwalk and back down – and constantly be on the move.”

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, wooden sections of the Brighton Beach end of the Boardwalk are being torn up to be replaced with a walkway made of recycled plastic lumber and a 10-foot wide concrete “carriage lane” for so-called “emergency vehicles.” The $10 million pilot project is seen as the City’s plan for the future of the entire boardwalk, except for a few blocks in the amusement district that will continue to be made of ipe wood.

And Coney Island’s heroic City Councilman Mark Treyger is trying to persuade the City’s Landmarks Commission that the Boardwalk should be declared a Scenic Landmark despite a previous rebuff.

Boardwalk

Boardwalk Reconstruction in Brighton Beach, where a new plastic and concrete ‘boardwalk’ is set for completion in May 2016. Photo by Lonnie Luchnick via Friends of the Boardwalk Facebook

The Parks Department’s page about the Coney Island Boardwalk Reconstruction at Brighton Beach says “Replacing this portion of the boardwalk (Coney Island Avenue to Brighton 15th Street) using hardwoods could destroy some 6,000 acres of tropical rainforest, while 45,200 acres would be destroyed to reconstruct the entire boardwalk.” But instead of opting for a treated wood such as Kebony, which has been used at Delaware’s Bethany Beach Boardwalk (Parks claims Kebony is “only available in Europe”), or a wood over concrete substructure like Ocean City, Maryland, the City went for the cheapest and least aesthetically pleasing –a concrete and plastic surface.

Boardwalk reconstruction

Parks Dept rendering of boardwalk reconstruction underway in Brighton Beach. a 10-foot-wide concrete carriage lane will be included in the 50-foot-wide boardwalk.

The Milan Expo project caught our eye a few months ago via a dramatically titled news story “Sandy-ravaged Coney Island boardwalk turned into showpiece.” Coney Island Boardwalk, the brand, commands attention, and rescuing discarded boards to make into something new and beautiful is commendable. But in fact, the Coney Island Boardwalk was NOT ravaged by Sandy but survived intact, though the same can’t be said for the neighborhood or Steeplechase Pier.

Berms built on the beach protected the boardwalk, which was inundated with sand that was shoveled into tidy piles and returned to the beach. We’re not sure who started the ravaged boardwalk myth but it enables Parks’ claim that plastic lumber was more resilient than wood during Sandy, a fact disputed by actual residents of the neighborhood. The producers of luxury products made from Coney boardwalk wood, including such trinkets as a $195 knife with an ipe handle, unwittingly perpetrate the myth in their blurbs.

Boardwalk after Sandy

Coney Island Boardwalk a few days after Sandy. November 5, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

In fact, the Parks Dept. has been giving away and/or selling the wood for several years in the course of redoing sections of the boardwalk. The wood was torn up before the storm so that a new concrete surface could go down at Sea Gate and Brighton. Some boards are removed during regular maintenance and replaced with new ipe. There will be plenty more wood to go around now that they’re tearing up the boards in Brighton in a pilot project that was infamously approved by the Public Design Commission despite popular opposition.

What the City of New York doesn’t want you to know, but anyone who lives or works along the boardwalk can tell you, is that the 2.51 mile pedestrian walkway is now routinely used as a roadway by Parks Department and NYPD vehicles, not just for emergencies. It is this everyday use which causes enormous wear and tear to the boards, which frequently pop up while whole sections cave in and have to be replaced.

Truck on Coney Island Boardwalk

The City of New York’s routine use of trucks and cars on the Coney Island Boardwalk causes wear and tear on the boards. The Parks Dept is starting to build a 10-foot wide concrete ‘carriage lane’ in Brighton Beach. Photo © Anonymouse

In June of 2012, months before Sandy, when the Barnes Foundation’s new museum opened with flooring made of Coney Island Boardwalk wood, an article in the NY Times explained how it got there: “The parks department says it tries to reuse what it can but then allows contractors to sell, discard or give away the rest. (The city makes no money from it.) That is how an architectural salvage company in Philadelphia came to haul away 20 trailer loads of Coney Island wood in 2010.”

While repurposing discarded lumber is eco-friendly and gives a building a LEEDS rating, there’s something incongruous about sending this heavy wood more than 4,000 miles to Italy for an expo trumpeting sustainability. “Indoor and outdoor decking made of salvaged Coney Island boardwalk lumber will eventually be re cycled again,” according to the US Pavilion’s Sustainability Fact Sheet. Well, good, so Europeans can enjoy decks made from Coney boardwalk wood too. Or it will be shipped 4,000 miles back home.

Save the Boardwalk Rally

Sign at rally to save boardwalk from becoming concrete: This is SUPPOSED to be the DE BLASIO ADMINISTRATION not BLOOMBERG. January 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

The People’s Playground and the people of New York have been getting buncoed. As one of the commenters said in the NY Times story from 2012: “So the wood, which was payed [sic] for with tax payer dollars, is given away for free and then sold and used in hi end furniture, restaurants and museums? These people and places with no real association to Coney Island now claim some connection to the fabled boardwalk. Because they bought the wood that I helped pay for that the city gave away.”

USA Pavilion at Milan Expo

Ambassadors stand on ‘Boardwalk’ made from Coney Island Boardwalk wood during May 1st opening ceremony of USA Pavilion, Milan Expo 2015. Photo via USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 Facebook

Related posts on ATZ…

January 19, 2015: An Historic First As Elected Officials Join Community’s Fight to Save Coney Island Boardwalk

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 27, 2010: Photo of the Day: First Snow on Coney Island Boardwalk

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Save the Boardwalk Rally

Sign at rally to save boardwalk from becoming concrete: This is SUPPOSED to be the DE BLASIO ADMINISTRATION not BLOOMBERG. January 18, 2015. Photo © Tricia Vita

Despite icy conditions that made travel hazardous and a steady rain, about 100 people came out to Brighton Beach on Sunday for a rally to save the 92-year-old Boardwalk from becoming a concrete roadway flanked by a plasticwalk. There were many familiar faces in the crowd. Some of us had attended the charade of a public hearing where the pilot project was controversially approved by six Bloomberg appointees in 2012.

But the most remarkable thing about yesterday’s rally is that it was the first time elected officials stood with the community saying “Boardwalk Not Sidewalk!” City Councilman Mark Treyger, who has represented Coney Island for one year and whose leadership has brought about this political support, gave a fiery speech that ended with “Are you with me? The fight rages on!”

The politicians joining the rally included Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, NYC Controller Scott Stringer, NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, and Councilman Mark Levine, who is Chair of the Council’s Parks Committee, among others. During the Bloomberg administration, when this concrete boondoggle was born, elected officials automatically fell in line with Bloomberg’s policies. The local Community Board 13 voted against this proposal 21 to 7, but their vote was ignored because it’s “advisory.” Now we have a newly elected crop of officials questioning Mayor de Blasio and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver for not listening to the community and going ahead with Bloomberg’s calamitous plan for the Boardwalk.

When Public Advocate Letitia James said “We are urging the de Blasio administration to do what they promised and listen,” cheers went up from the crowd. “We are not going to stand by while the city rips out a piece of our history. I stand with Coney Island and Brighton Beach in this fight. The Boardwalk is worth fighting for.”

Together with Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who represents Brighton Beach, Treyger has been trying all last year to get the Mayor and the Parks Department to meet and discuss safety issues. As community activist Ida Sanoff said at the rally: “We saw a tremendous difference in storm surge impact where there were concrete sections as opposed to wooden sections. This so-called concrete plan is going forward without any environmental studies, without any engineering studies, without any thought to the safety of this community and the damage we suffered during Sandy.”

Frustrated residents held up signs that said “This is SUPPOSED to be the DE BLASIO ADMINISTRATION not BLOOMBERG,” “This is NOT Planning, Commissioner Silver,” and “Mayor de Blasio & Commissioner Silver, We LIVE HERE.” Unfortunately the de Blasio administration has not changed the pro-concrete position announced last June by Daniel Zarrilli, who heads the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency and is a holdover from the Bloomberg administration.

“The song is ‘Under the Boardwalk,’ it is not ‘Under the Concrete,'” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who gave an empowering speech about government for the people. “I’m so proud of this community that you understand government has to adhere to your wishes,” said Adams. “They thought they could ignore you. They thought you would allow your community to go through a transformation without raising your voices. Well, they were wrong.”

“We want to work with everyone to make sure the Landmarks Preservation Commission does the right thing,” said NYC Controller Scott Stringer, who promised to issue the economic data and “work side by side to make intelligent responses to the questions that come up.”

The State Assemblymen for the area, Steven Cymbrowitz and Alec Brook-Krasny were absent from the rally. It is $10 million in state money they provided which is funding the concrete section of boardwalk currently underway in Brighton Beach. One protest sign said “Steven Cymbrowitz you should be ashamed of yourself.”

State Assemblyman Bill Colton, who represents Gravesend and Bensonhurst, and Adele Cohen, who represented the neighborhood in the Assembly from 1996-2006, were in attendance and gave rousing speeches. “It’s about money,” said Cohen, who recalled that even during her tenure the Parks Department had no budget for repairs because they depended on discretionary funds. The solution: “No money, no concrete. Take the money out of the budget.”

Update: Missed rally to save the Boardwalk? See @Capt_Nemo’s two-part video of the speeches in their entirety:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HWi7vk4Ch4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5b5vIe_sTKQ

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 20, 2014: Save the Boardwalk for Future Gens! Sign Brooklyn Pols Petition to Make it ‘Scenic Landmark’

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 27, 2010: Photo of the Day: First Snow on Coney Island Boardwalk

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Coney Island Boardwalk Under Reconstruction. April 23, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Today’s 1pm rally moved to Boardwalk pavilion at Brighton 4th St, few blocks west of Coney Island Ave, if still raining. Please spread the word!

After Bill de Blasio’s campaign rhetoric as the choice for voters who wanted to reject Bloomberg’s policies, we’re disappointed with the Mayor for not only continuing the Bloomberg-approved Concretewalk but failing to listen to local council members and the community. All year, letters and requests for an environmental study and a meeting to discuss the Coney Island-Brighton Beach Boardwalk with Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver were rebuffed. Finally a charade of a stakeholders’ meeting was hastily arranged on the day before New Year’s Eve.

On Monday evening, Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island, and Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who represents Brighton Beach, put out a call for a rally and press conference on Sunday, January 18th.

Rally to Save Our Boardwalk!

COMMUNITY ALERT

Join Council Member Mark Treyger and Council Member Chaim Deutsch in the fight to preserve and protect the historic Brighton Beach and Coney Island Boardwalk.

YOUR help is needed to halt the plans to turn the Boardwalk into a concrete sidewalk with a center roadway for trucks.

PRESS CONFERENCE
WHEN: Sunday, January 18, 2015 at 1 PM
WHERE: On the Boardwalk at Coney Island Avenue

This project will destroy the character of our neighborhood, create dangerous conditions for children, seniors, joggers and everyone else who enjoys the Boardwalk.

The Boardwalk has been badly neglected and allowed to deteriorate. Yet the Parks Department refuses to repair it. Turning it into a concrete sidewalk with a center roadway is not the solution!

We have evidence that concrete will increase storm surge damage to our homes and businesses, yet the City and the Parks Department refuse to consider our safety. They just began ripping up a large section in Brighton Beach. This is only the beginning!

The Parks Department is refusing to listen to what the community wants.

OUR LIVES MATTER!

OUR NEIGHBORHOOD MATTERS!

Come to the rally and preserve the Boardwalk!

For more information, contact:
Council Member Mark Treyger 718-373-9673

save the boardwalk

Related posts on ATZ…

December 20, 2014: Save the Boardwalk for Future Gens! Sign Brooklyn Pols Petition to Make it ‘Scenic Landmark’

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 27, 2010: Photo of the Day: First Snow on Coney Island Boardwalk

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Fantasy Shore Amusement Park

This Spinning Tea Cup is one of four children’s rides at new Fantasy Shore Amusement Park in Staten Island. Photo by NY Carousel

Staten Island’s east shore, where Ferris wheels, coasters and carousels were awhirl in the early 20th century, has its first seaside park since South Beach’s Beachland Amusements closed after 65 years. Fantasy Shore Amusement Park in Midland Beach opened last weekend for “preview days,” which continue on Thursday and Friday from 11am till 6pm. The grand opening and ribbon cutting is scheduled for June 28th.

The new kiddie park opened with four rides: Tea Cups, Train, Frog Hopper and a mini-roller coaster christened the Verrazano Viper. Fantasy Shore is run by NY Carousel Entertainment, which answered the Parks Department’s RFP (Request for Proposals) to develop and operate a children’s amusement park for a 12-year term. The park is on Father Capodanno Blvd at Seaview Avenue, adjacent to Midland Beach Fishing Pier.

Queens Motor Speedway

Queens Motor Speedway Ride at Fantasy Forest Amusement Park.
Flushing Meadows, Queens. Photo by NY Carousel

The company also operates two historic Queens carousels in City parks in Flushing Meadows and Forest Park. Last year, NY Carousel added a mini-amusement park called Fantasy Forest at Flushing Meadows, including Queens’ only roller coaster, a family ride called the Corona Cobra similar to the one in Midland Beach. On Memorial Day weekend, the Queens park debuted a new ride called the Queens Motor Speedway inspired by the Kiddie Whip ride manufactured by the Mangels Company in Coney Island. (more…)

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Midland Beach Site Opportunity Diagram

The site in Midland Beach includes the Foundations for Six Amusement Rides. March 13, 2014. NYC Parks Department

In January, NY Carousel Entertainment and Big Mark’s Action Park were among the amusement park operators eyeing Staten Island’s beachfronts when the City released a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) that mentioned rides as well as carnivals and stall-based amusements. Last week, the Parks Department followed up by issuing an RFP (Request for Proposals) for the development and operation of a Children’s Amusement Park as well as the operation of mobile food units and souvenir carts in Midland Beach, with a 12-year term.

Midland Beach’s 2.5-mile boardwalk and beach area extends southeast from Fort Wadsworth to Miller Field’s Gateway Recreational Area. The proposed site is located on Father Capodanno Blvd. between Seaview Ave. and Sand Lane, and includes concrete foundations for six rides. A diagram shows the pads occupied by a carousel, magic castle, sky glider, mini airport and spinning teacups circled by a trackless train, though these are just examples. There’s also a pad for a concession building with attached public restrooms, which are under construction.

Souvenir Booth, Midland Beach

Vintage Postcard: The Souvenir Booth, Midland Beach, Staten Island, N.Y. Collection Milstein Division, New York Public Library

The RFP does not say when the park is expected to open, but a proposer meeting and site tour is set for March 28, with a due date for proposals of April 16th. To download the RFP, visit the Parks Department’s Concessions Opportunities page.

Midland Beach, just south of South Beach, once had hotels, beer gardens, bathing pavilions, theaters, carousels, Ferris wheels and other amusements. Vintage postcards in the New York Public Library show a variety of entertainments, including trapeze performances, boxing exhibitions and a Whip ride.

UPDATE June 25, 2014

Fantasy Shore Amusement Park in Midland Beach opened on June 28th with four rides: Tea Cups, Train, Frog Hopper and a mini-roller coaster christened the Verrazano Viper. Fantasy Shore is run by NY Carousel Entertainment, which also operates Fantasy Forest Amusement Park at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens.

The Whip at Midland Beach

Vintage Postcard: Everybody Rides the The Whip at Midland Beach, Staten Island. Collection Milstein Division, New York Public Library

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NY State Pavilion

Ruins of the New York State Pavilion from the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Flushing Meadows Park, Queens. Photo by Matthew Silva via Kickstarter

You cannot think of Coney Island without the Parachute Jump, especially now that it is illuminated nightly. Last night, it was bathed in sea green and blue light to celebrate the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl win. But the iconic tower, which was moved to Coney after first thrilling visitors at the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair in Queens, stopped operating as a ride after Steeplechase Park closed in 1964. The Jump endured nearly 40 years of neglect and threats of demolition before being rehabbed and lit with LEDs at a cost of $8.5 million during the Bloomberg administration.

Beginning in 2002, the City’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz championed the landmark’s costly revamp as part of their plan to revitalize Coney Island. Will the ruins of the New York State Pavilion, an iconic structure from the 1964 New York World’s Fair in Queens’ Flushing Meadows Park, which the Parks Department says would cost $14 million to demolish and $52 million to restore, find a plan and a champion to underwrite the cost of saving it?

“World’s Fair buildings are not designed to be permanent. They’re meant to be taken down again,” says a voice at the beginning of the trailer for Matthew Silva’s documentary Modern Ruin about the Pavilion. “Somehow there’s always something nobody wants to tear down, and in this case the New York State Pavilion was one.”

The voice is that of Frank Sanchis, director of the World Monuments Fund, which included architect Philip Johnson’s pavilion on their 2008 Watch List. The Tent of Tomorrow is in imminent danger of collapse due to the deterioration of the exposed steel structure and the decay of the wood piles that serve as the building’s foundation, according to WMF, which successfully nominated the Pavilion for inclusion in the State Register of Historic Places in 2009.

NY State Pavilion

The interior of the New York State Pavilion, designed by Philip Johnson, at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. Photo: © Ezra Stoller/Esto/Yossi Milo Gallery

Now as the building approaches its 50th anniversary, it’s in the spotlight again after years of neglect. People for the Pavilion, a grassroots group dedicated to the preservation and reuse of the structure, hosted a kickoff event last month which drew over 200 people. Silva, who is one of the organization’s co-founders, launched a Kickstarter for his documentary about the pavilion, and raised more than $11,000 towards his goal of $30,000 in the first week. The Parks Department held two “listening sessions,” where people were invited to share their vision for the future of the Pavilion after listening to a presentation on recent structural studies that were completed on the Tent of Tomorrow and Towers.

“The reasons for its neglect are open to interpretation and kind of complicated,” said Silva, in an interview with ATZ. “But one could argue that it simply came down to money, poor post-fair planning, and the fact that the City almost went into default in the ’70s. When the city was in such bad financial shape, how could anyone justify pumping money into an old building from the World’s Fair? But here we are 50 years later and maybe now we can make the case for its rehabilitation and reuse.”

UPDATE February 4, 2014:

The Parks Department has posted links to their PowerPoint presentation, which was shown at the listening sessions, and a survey “in order to understand your vision for the future of the New York State Pavilion.” The survey will be posted on the webpage of Flushing Meadows Corona Park through March 15.

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December 14, 2011: Another Go Round for RFP to Run Carousels in Flushing Meadows & Forest Parks

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