A portion of the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk is now a cementwalk.
The city has installed concrete slabs near the Boardwalk’s Ocean Parkway entrance in Brighton Beach — and some residents say they’re destroying the famed wooden pathway.
“You can call it a walkway or a sidewalk but you cannot call it a boardwalk any longer,” said Todd Dobrin, chairman of the Coney Island Friends of the Boardwalk.
The tan-colored, pebbled-textured slabs, which are also replacing wood planks from W. 33rd to W. 37th streets near Sea Gate, do not resemble wood, say critics, who are also worried that they won’t hide certain beach flotsam.
“The globs of chewing gum that are going to turn black will be a very interesting addition,” said Brighton Beach resident Ida Sanoff. “And the bird droppings will make it look like a Jackson Pollock canvas.”
The city installed synthetic lumber planks on Steeplechase Pier near MCU Park last year, as well as traditional wood planks between Stillwell Avenue and W. 10th Street this summer as part of a test to determine which material is best suited for the Boardwalk.
In the coming months, the city will examine the wear and tear on the different materials to determine which requires the fewest repairs. The most resilient will eventually be used for a full plank replacement.
Concrete seems to have the edge since beach-goers are already complaining about loose screws and raised planks on the pier and in the new wooden section. Also, the Roman invention is cheaper to maintain than the wood planks, as it doesn’t require regular repairs, such as replacing loose screws, and lasts “100 years instead of 30 or 40 years,” according to John Natoli, Parks’ chief engineer.
There are no screws on top of the slabs, which are welded together and connected by steel bolts to a support structure.
The new look won raves from some area residents who initially opposed the project.
“I was fearing the worst but I was impressed,” admitted Pat Singer, president of the Brighton Beach Neighborhood Association. “It looks pretty.”