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Posts Tagged ‘Parks Department’

Steeplechase Pier

Workers at Coney Island’s Sandy-damaged Steeplechase Pier, September 28, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Over the weekend, word on the Boardwalk was that Steeplechase Pier, which has been under reconstruction since March due to damage sustained during Superstorm Sandy, would reopen on Tuesday. Work is almost complete and will be finished this week, according to the workers who were heading off the pier.

ATZ checked with the Parks Department today and the pier will indeed reopen sometime in October, though not on October 1st. The pier will need to be inspected first, a Parks Department official told ATZ. The 1,000-foot-pier is a popular spot for fishermen as well as for photographers, who were already making plans to return to their favorite spot tomorrow and will now have to wait a little bit longer. The pier had to be completely reconstructed post-Sandy and was originally expected to be finished by July.

Update: The pier reopened on Wednesday, October 2nd. Here are the first photos!

Steeplechase Pier

Work is Nearly Complete on Coney Island’s Sandy-damaged Steeplechase Pier, September 28, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

April 14, 2013: Photo Update: Sunken Barge at Steeplechase Pier in Coney Island

March 14, 2013: Photo of the Day: Repairing Sandy-Damaged Steeplechase Pier

October 31, 2012: Photo Album: Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Coney Island

August 24, 2010: Video: Coney Island Pier Divers by Kevin C Downs

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Flyering for the Boardwalk, Not Sidewalk! October 14, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

In advance of the Coney Island Boardwalk’s day in court on Thursday, a costumed character named Smart and Intrepid Egg Head passed out flyers on the Boardwalk about the October 25th hearing: “COME AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR A WOOD BOARDWALK!!!”” Printed in English, Russian and Spanish, the flyer says:

It is vitally important for us to have a large turnout present in the courtroom when our case is heard. It will indicate to the judge the widespread level of concern that exists with regard to the Park Department’s plan for the Boardwalk. BOARDWALK NOT SIDEWALK!

Our lawsuit: We claim that the Parks Department did not subject its plans for concreting over the Coney Island Boardwalk to the necessary state environmental review…

Thursday, October 25th, 9:45 AM Kings County Supreme Court, 360 Adams St. Downtown Brooklyn, Hearing Part number: 38. Judge: Martin Solomon. Closest subway stops: Court St, Jay St/Borough Hall.

We will meet outside the hearing room at 9:30AM sharp and then enter and sit together. RSVP 718-449-7017 or robburstein@hotmail.com.

Go to www.savetheboardwalk.wordpress.com for more info, to check for last minute date changes and to sign the petition!

In July, the advocacy groups Friends of the Boardwalk and Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance along with neighborhood residents filed a lawsuit against the New York City Parks Department to stop the agency from replacing additional sections of the Coney Island Boardwalk with concrete and plastic wood. The Mayor’s Public Design Commission unanimously approved a ten-foot-wide Concrete Lane for so-called “emergency vehicles” and an adjoining Plasticwalk for a pilot project in Brighton Beach. Sections of the Boardwalk in Brighton Beach and Coney’s west end near Sea Gate are already a Concretewalk. You can see what it looks like here and here.

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Related posts on ATZ…

July 13, 2012: Coney Island Boardwalk Advocates Sue Parks Department

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

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

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Hetzi Juniper Trees on Surf Avenue in front of Luna Park, Coney Island. October 18, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Coney Island now has more trees than rides! The greening of Coney Island’s Surf Avenue from Sea Gate to West 5th Street is under way with 200 trees being planted by New York City Parks and Recreation. The trees in the amusement area are Hetzi Junipers and other species west of MCU Park. The tree planting crew started two weeks ago in the west end of Coney Island and worked their way east to the amusement area. This week curbside trees were planted on the south side of Surf Avenue in front of Nathan’s, the Eldorado Bumper Cars, Coney Island USA and Luna Park. Yesterday at a bus stop on the north side of Surf Avenue, the trees were planted adjacent to an empty lot instead of curbside, as seen in the photo below. Just for the record, the ride count in Coney Island is now at 64, according to ATZ’s latest ride census.

Coney Island is one of several New York City neighborhoods slated for block tree planting this fall. The Parks Department selects blocks with few or no trees, planting on both sides of the street. The street tree program is part of MillionTreesNYC, a public-private initiative with the goal of planting and caring for one million new trees across the City’s five boroughs over the next decade. According to the program’s website, they’ve reached 612,625 trees and are counting.

Trees on Surf Avenue

Hetzi Juniper Trees Being Planted on the north side of Surf Avenue. October 18, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

UPDATE November 15, 2012:

Sadly, just a few weeks after the trees were planted, most were uprooted by Hurricane Sandy…

After Hurricane Sandy: Street Tree

After Hurricane Sandy: Street Tree on Surf Avenue in front of Luna Park. November 5, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita

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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-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance

Photo showing lack of drainage on concrete section of Boardwalk. Photo courtesy of Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance

ATZ obtained a copy of a letter the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance sent to members of the City’s Public Design Commission, rebutting the Parks Department’s claims in a recent NY Times article that plastic and concrete is the only viable alternative to wood. The first part of the cover letter is reproduced below. On Tuesday, the grassroots group sent the letter to each commissioner along with a binder of research and photos that will be posted on the group’s soon-to-debut blog and publicized via twitter. Also to be posted is a statement on viable alternatives to tropical hardwoods for decking by Tim Keating of Rainforest Relief that is an addendum to the letter. (Update: The website http://savetheboardwalk.wordpress.com went live on March 5, while an online petition continues to gather signatures. The public hearing at the Design Commission is set for Monday, March 12.)

“The New York Times ran an article that made it seem like it’s just about over, but they didn’t have all the facts,” said CBBA’s Christianna Nelson in a post on Coney Island USA’s Message Board. “The other news outlets have simply been quoting that article. The fact is, the Design Commission has not ruled on the issue and they CANNOT rule without first having a public hearing. We all need to show up at that hearing and make our voices heard! Rob Burstein and I were interviewed on Good Day New York today on Fox, and we tried to correct some of these misconceptions.”

Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance

Photo showing concrete section of Boardwalk in Brighton Beach. Photo courtesy of Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance

Do I have to even mention this is a David vs Goliath situation? New York City’s Parks Department has an annual budget of $249 $290.2 million. Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance is made up of local people who volunteer their time. Hearings scheduled by Parks for January 30 and February 21 were abruptly postponed. How inconvenient for citizens who arranged to take time off from work to attend! Meanwhile, the Alliance’s online petition to “Keep the Boards in the Coney Island Boardwalk –No Concrete! and Save the Rainforests” continues to collect signatures, though it would have a lot more if the Times story read round the world had provided a link to it.

ATZ’s takeaway from the Times story on the Boardwalk was that Parks has been lobbying PDC Commissioners and postponing the vote till they’re sure of a win. In the article, Commissioners were described as “persuaded” or “resigned to” the Parks Department’s plan to use plastic wood and a strip of concrete down the middle for emergency vehicles. This so-called compromise plan was in fact voted down by the Community Board last year. It’s too bad the New York Times, which made this compromise plan sound inevitable, removed the word “concrete” from the original headline on the web version of the story when they corrected it to add the word “may.” Is concrete a dirty word?


Here is the first part of the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance’s letter, which is signed by Rob Burstein, the founder and president of the organization, and Christianna Nelson, the chairwoman.

Dear Commissioner,

Enclosed is a binder with research, letters, and photos we have gathered that together create a compelling argument for maintaining Coney Island’s wood boardwalk.  A recent New York Times article reported that, “some commission members said they would reluctantly embrace the synthetic wood-concrete compromise.”  Given that the Parks Department seems to have communicated privately with at least some Commission members, we respectfully request the same opportunity.  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.  A decision of this magnitude should be based on a complete understanding of all the issues and available options.  This is especially true since the Commission’s decision will have profound and far reaching implications for all the citizens of New York City, but most especially for the communities which will be most affected by whatever action the Commission takes.

We are sharing this information with you so that you have adequate time to review it in advance of any hearing, to reflect on its merits and factor it into your decision.  Accordingly, we would like to schedule a meeting with you and the other Design Commissioners, at your earliest convenience, to present our research in person and to correct the numerous fallacies in the Parks Department’s arguments as reported in the Times article.  Additionally, we would like to invite you on a brief tour of Boardwalk sites, to show you completed work with design elements that are problematical, yet still repeated in the current Parks Department proposal.

To provide you with a brief overview, the Times articles describes three arguments that the Park Department proffers in support of replacing the majority of the boardwalk with either concrete or plastic.  None of these arguments, either standing alone or collectively, supports the Parks Department’s proposal.

Claim #1: There is no viable wood.  The Parks Department states that they have “investigated every option, from natural woods like Douglas fir and black locust to treated woods like Southern yellow pine.  They concluded that such hardwoods were neither durable enough nor, in the case of black locust, abundantly available.”

Reality: This is simply not true.  A study commissioned by the Parks Department in 2008 and conducted by the Columbia School of Engineering concluded that black locust wood was the best material to use in rebuilding and repairing the boardwalk.  (Tab 1).

Black locust wood is, in fact, readily available in large quantities.  (Tab 2). ***For more specific information (suppliers, treatment methods, other possible wood options, etc.), please see the attached Addendum #1 from Tim Keating, Director of Rainforest Relief.

Ocean City, Maryland recently repaired their boardwalk using treated #1 dense southern yellow pine for the decking.  Their substructure of concrete footings provides enough support for the passenger trams that run up and down their boardwalk daily, as well as car and fire engine parades. (Tabs 19-21).

Claim #2: Wood is more expensive.  The Parks Department contends that concrete and plastic are “cheaper than wood to build and maintain.”  Domenic Recchia claims that it costs “more than $1 million a year to maintain the wooden Boardwalk.”

Reality: The Parks Department spent millions of dollars on concrete sections which have already required significant repairs.  Numerous unsightly cracks have appeared and, in some places, whole chunks of concrete have crumbled away, both on the decking area and underneath in the substructure. (Tab 22 shows photos of some of this damage).  By contrast, in Ocean City, Maryland, City Engineer Terry McGean tested very small sections of various materials for a brief period to determine what was best for long-term use. (Tab 20 contains a photo of these test sections).

Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance

Photo showing brand new concrete decking in Brighton Beach already cracked and stained. Photo courtesy of Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance

Concrete and plastic take maintenance, too.  In fact, the biggest cost differential between wood and concrete is in the installation, not the maintenance.  In Ocean City, McGean determined that over a 50-year period, the cost difference between wood and concrete was $1 million dollars ($16.7 million for all wood and $15.5 for wood with stamped concrete).  This amounts to an extra $24,000 per year for wood vs. concrete.  (Tabs, 18, 20).

From an aesthetic standpoint, concrete deteriorates much more quickly than wood, and is more difficult to repair, since there is no option of merely replacing one or two faulty boards.  The numerous chips, cracks and stains create “an unappealing, patchy look that downgrades the overall appearance of the boardwalk.” (Tabs 10, 11, 17, 22).

The Parks Department ignores the fact that people come from all over the world to see our Boardwalk, bringing tourism dollars to New York.  Mr. Benepe states that “economic considerations outweigh the historical importance of the wood.”  But wood’s historical significance has real economic value. (Tab 15).  People come to Coney Island to experience its history and unique character, not to see a generic concrete and plastic sidewalk. (Tab 23 shows numerous comments to this effect from the over 2,000 tourists and locals who have signed our online petition).  Indeed, Ocean City, Maryland changed part of its boardwalk from concrete back to wood in the late 1990’s and experienced significant economic improvement as a direct result. (Tab 16).  More recently, in 2011, Ocean City considered creating a concrete lane for vehicles on their boardwalk, similar to what the Parks Department is proposing for Coney Island.  (Tab 20).  But they decided against this option when the results of their online poll showed overwhelming support for an all-wood boardwalk without any traffic lane.  Tourists and locals alike lauded their boardwalk as the city’s “heart and soul.” (Tab 17).

The Parks Department is relying on conflicting assumptions.  They claim that the Boardwalk is in enough disrepair to warrant a complete overhaul.  Yet they also claim that it costs $1 million per year to maintain it.  If they have been spending $1 million per year on maintenance, how is it that the boardwalk is so damaged?  And if they have not been doing proper maintenance, how can they possibly know how much that maintenance costs?  The fact is that the Parks Department has refused to allocate funds to properly maintain the boardwalk.  Instead, they have neglected the boardwalk for many years and now claim that the only solution is to destroy the whole thing and build a new one using borrowed capital funds.  It would be more cost-effective to repair the current structure and maintain it properly.

Claim #3: Concrete and plastic are sturdier and just as safe as wood. The Parks Department claims that “a 12-foot concrete section for emergency vehicles” is necessary.

Reality: This argument relies on two unwarranted suppositions.  First, the Parks Department premises its claim that heavy vehicles, such as police cars and sanitation trucks, need to use the boardwalk as a roadway.  A cursory review of New York City amply demonstrates that police patrols do not necessarily need to take place in heavy vehicles.  Lightweight golf cart vehicles, which are used in other New York City venues, should be considered here, as well as bicycles in warmer weather.  Similarly, trash collection can be accomplished using smaller vehicles.  Certainly, this has been done in other public spaces, such as Central Park. (Tabs 6, 7, 11).

Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance

Photo showing lack of drainage on wood over concrete slab section of Boardwalk in Coney Island amusement area. Photo courtesy of Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance

Second, the Parks Department relies on the flawed premise that, even if heavy vehicles were to continue to use the Boardwalk, there is no way to construct a supportive structure utilizing wood.  Ocean City Maryland’s boardwalk, which accommodates daily tram traffic for its 8 million annual visitors, demonstrably proves otherwise (According to a November 7, 2011 press release at www.nyc.gov, Coney Island receives approximately 640,000 visitors in the summer season). Ocean City’s boardwalk is able to support this kind of enormous traffic because of its innovative, strong substructure. (Tabs 16, 19-21).

Moreover, the concrete and plastic sections that the Parks Department already installed have created real safety hazards that simply are not present when wood is used.  The concrete slabs do not allow for sufficient drainage of water.  Consequently sheets of ice build up on the concrete in the winter.  (Tab 22 contains a photo showing sheets of ice on the concrete section, but no ice on the wood section).  The plastic decking material fares no better.  The plastic is slippery year round, especially given the ocean mist.  ***For more specific information about the hazards of RPL, please see attached Addendum #1 from Tim Keating, Director of Rainforest Relief.

The Parks Department’s use of concrete slabs as a substructure over which wood is placed also creates safety risks.   The lack of drainage inherent in this design causes sand and other debris to build up.  The result is damaged wood and loose screws, both of which present hazards to pedestrians and bicyclists.  ***For more specific information regarding these design flaws and problematic previous applications, please refer to the attached Addendum #2, which contains email correspondence from Stuart K. Pertz, FAIA, Architect and Urban Designer.

Additionally, the concrete substructure creates a harsh and unforgiving surface for runners, pedestrians, and dancers, who all use the Boardwalk on a daily basis (Tabs 9, 11, 12, 13, 14).  Concrete also has been known to concentrate wave energy, increasing the risk of floods. (Tab 8).

If concrete and plastic were the only environmentally responsible, affordable, easily available, sturdy, and safe options for repairing a boardwalk, no city would choose to maintain a wood boardwalk.  But many communities across the country have found that wood boardwalks are, in fact, viable and beneficial.  For example, Long Beach, NY; Long Branch, NJ; Asbury Park, NJ; Point Pleasant, NJ; Seaside Heights, NJ; Atlantic City, NJ; Ventnor, NJ; Ocean City, NJ; North Wildwood, NJ; Wildwood, NJ; Bethany Beach, DE; Ocean City, MD; Myrtle Beach, SC; Miami Beach, FL; and Santa Monica, CA are some of the municipalities that have come to the reasoned conclusion that a wood boardwalk can and should be maintained.

 Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance

Underneath the Boardwalk near Steeplechase Pier. Photo courtesy of Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

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

January 20, 2012: Jan 30: NYC Design Commission to Meet (Again) on Coney Island Concretewalk

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

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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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