The test results are in — and a concrete Boardwalk is inevitable!
Parks Department officials announced on Wednesday night that concrete fared far better than wood or artificial material as a replacement for the battered and broken planks stretching from Brighton Beach to Coney Island — an announcement that led locals to the inevitable conclusion that the iconic, 69-year-old Boardwalk will soon become a sidewalk.
“This is an absolute disgrace. Having the Boardwalk is a plus for this community — it’s historic,” said Ruby Schultz. “And you’re going to turn it into a sidewalk?”
Over the summer, city officials had installed both concrete planks and a “faux-wood” called recycled plastic lumber to test both materials, part of $30 million in money from federal, state and city sources allocated towards repairing the Boardwalk.
Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey said that the city favored concrete because:
• It costs less.
• It is not slippery.
• It does not break or rot.
• It is easy to repair.
Yet despite all these things, Jeffrey tried to defuse his constituents’ anger by saying that a concrete Boardwalk is “absolutely not a done deal.”
That said, he added, “We believe concrete is the way to go.”
Borough President Markowitz was skeptical of the city’s apparent preference for concrete.
“We should not hastily turn our legendary Coney Island Boardwalk into just another concrete sidewalk,” the Beep told Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe in a letter. “With the increasing tourism in the area, the last thing we want to do is take away one of the main reasons people come to Coney Island!”
But Jeffrey countered that there is a concrete boardwalk in the Rockaways, and such a silvery configuration is very common on the West Coast, a distant Brooklyn suburb.
Parks officials said an alternative — plastic lumber — presented several problems at the Steeplechase Pier, where it was tested.
First, the lumber warped. It also got very hot. Lastly, it became slippery when wet (a problem echoed by some locals).
But many attendees of the Community Board 13 meeting at Coney Island Hospital were fuming, saying the city had already decided that the Boardwalk would now become concrete, despite the fact that the iconic pathway was in a sorry state in large part due to chronic neglect, as well as city vehicles driving on it.
“The trucks, the police, the heavy vans, they all cause damage,” said Bruni Figueroa. “And 95 percent of the time, they’re just cruising looking at the girls, not even doing their jobs!”
After the meeting, a parks official conceded that the agency was in a bind, as Mayor Bloomberg ordered the Parks Department to reduce its use of wood in 2008.
“We’re in a lose-lose situation,” said Ilan Kutok, one of the parks workers presiding over the project. “The mayor says we can’t use any wood. And, obviously, the community doesn’t like concrete.”