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City’s plan for Boardwalk leaves just four blocks of wood • Brooklyn Paper

City’s plan for Boardwalk leaves just four blocks of wood

Back-to-back-back: Recycled plastic lumber, concrete and wood — the three materials being used to rebuild the Coney Island Boardwalk.
Photo composite of Paul Martinka photos

The city is moving ahead with a plan to remove the wood from virtually all of Brooklyn’s famous Riegelmann Boardwalk, replacing it with cement or a synthetic material along all but a tiny stretch of the two-and-a-half-mile beachfront walkway.

The Parks Department, which is responsible for the nearly 90-year-old walkers’ paradise, will first replace wood with concrete on a long stretch of the Boardwalk between Coney Island Avenue and Brighton 15th Street in Brighton Beach, despite opposition from residents and Community Board 13.

The plan is expected to be approved by the Public Design Commission later this month — and likely lead to the paving of the rest of the Boardwalk, part of a long-stated city goal of replacing the costlier wood from Manhattan Beach to Sea Gate, except for a four-block section in the historic amusement district between W. 15th and W. 10th streets.

Opponents are furious.

“The Boardwalk is historic,” said Brighton Beach resident Ida Sanoff, who opposes a concrete makeover. “It’s not a sidewalk.”

That might not be true for long, however.

Last year, the city installed two small sections of concrete to test the material, as preparation for a larger $30-million renovation to the aging, 2.7-mile Boardwalk, which opened in 1923.

Parks spokeswoman Meghan Lalor said concrete was chosen because it’s sturdier — and, at $90 per square foot, it’s about $40 per foot cheaper than replacing the Boardwalk’s worn-down planks with real wood.

But last month, critics pointed out that the slabs were already starting to crack after just one year of use.

“Concrete might be the cheapest solution, but it’s not the best one,” said Todd Dobrin, president of Friends of the Boardwalk. “It isn’t the end-all be-all with this project.”

Small cracks are indeed visible in the concrete, but city officials said there’s no cause for alarm.

“There are minor hairline cracks, which are not structural in nature and pose no safety issues,” said Lalor, the Parks Department spokeswoman.

WHERE’S THE WOOD?: The Coney Island Boardwalk got its name for a reason: the legendary span contains 1.3 million hardwood planks, stretching from W. 37th Street to Corbin Place in Brighton Beach. Now, the city says only a four-block stretch will remain wood, as our graph shows.

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