Battle for Coney Island

Battle for Coney Island

The new planks recently installed on the Coney Island boardwalk are already falling apart, area residents claim.

“I went to visit the boardwalk and I did see some planks up. These are the new planks,” said Todd Dobrin, a member of Community Board 13 and chair of the Coney Island Friends of the Boardwalk.

The new planks, which the city Parks Department has been installing since last spring, will replace the most dilapidated portions of the boardwalk. Brooklynites have long complained of tripping on loose screws and raised planks.

Phil Abramson, a spokesperson for the Parks Department, insists that the damage to the new planks is minimal.

“We have inspected the newly installed planks along the boardwalk and there are broken screws at only a small percentage of them,” he said. “We are coordinating with our engineer to repair the broken screws. A different means of installation is being applied at the new section being constructed to ensure that the nails are more securely applied to the boards.”

Bath Beach resident Michael Greco blamed the Parks Department for the broken planks.

“Eighty percent of the damage has been done by Parks Department trucks,” Greco said. “The other 20 percent is mostly police vehicles speeding up and down the boardwalk. That has loosened up all the boards. It popped the old nails as well as the new screws so the boards stick up, and that’s what most people slip on.”

Abramson said some Parks vehicles must travel along the boardwalk.

“The Parks Department has drastically reduced the number of vehicles that are permitted to travel on the boardwalk over the past decade. While it is necessary for trucks to empty the garbage cans, their tires are designed to spread out the vehicle’s weight. Other vehicles that are required to be on the boardwalk for essential safety and maintenance purposes are lightweight,” he explained.

While most Brighton Beach and Coney Island residents are glad to see the broken planks removed, some object to the use of concrete-based planks. Parks officials say the planks resemble wood and are easier to maintain than real wood.

“They’re taking away from a great American icon,” Greco asserted. “It’s no longer a boardwalk. It’s a concrete drive.”

“I’m glad they stopped using tropical wood. That was a big issue,” acknowledged Brighton Beach resident Ida Sanoff. “But was concrete the best solution? I’m wondering if it’s going to be an oven in the summer.”

Responding to concerns, Abramson said, “The new planks that are being installed along the boardwalk will be similar in heat and texture to the pathways at thousands of our parks and playgrounds, and will be considerably cooler than the sand of the beach.”

While Dobrin isn’t thrilled about the use of concrete, he says it’s better than nothing.

“It’s not my favorite choice but it might be the best one,” Dobrin said. “It’s better than what we had, which was the boardwalk falling apart.”