Cracked under pressure! City to fix Coney Island sidewalks neglected after construction project

Some sidewalks in Coney Island have been left with uneven tar and gaps since Dec. 2018.
Some sidewalks in Coney Island have been left with uneven tar and gaps since December 2018.
Photo courtesy of Council Member Justin Brannan

Work to repair some unsightly Coney Island sidewalks, left in disrepair following an unfinished sewer project from years ago, is finally underway.

The fixes come after local Council Member Justin Brannan — who now represents the area and who first announced the repairs this week — put pressure on the city’s Department of Design and Construction to mend the uneven, cracked sidewalks stemming from a project the agency never buttoned up.

The agency first began installing new sewer lines and water mains around Hart Place, West 17th Street, Cropsey Avenue, Surf Avenue and Stillwell Avenue. Records from a volunteer-run non-profit say construction was due to wrap up in December 2018, and though it reached “substantial completion” — meaning the construction portion of the job is completed and the installed portion of the project is ready for use — the job was never officially closed, according to Brannan, and DDC never came to clean up the mess they’d made in the process.

Locals say the ugly walkways were the result of a sewer project that was completed but never officially buttoned up.
Locals say the ugly walkways resulted from a sewer project that was completed but never officially buttoned up. Photo courtesy of Council Member Justin Brannan

“After crucial infrastructure upgrades years ago, the city never finished what they started and Coney was left with sidewalks typically reserved for developing nations,” Brannan said in a statement.

A spokesperson with DDC said the first phase of the project was completed in June 2022 but further construction was delayed due to new city-mandated regulations.

“Following Superstorm Sandy, DDC has undertaken numerous infrastructure projects to rebuild streets and expand sewer capacity in Coney Island,” the spokesperson told Brooklyn Paper. “The second [phase] was originally supposed to be completed in November 2023. However, during construction new stormwater management regulations were promulgated by New York State, requiring a partial redesign of the project.”

According to the DDC source, the redesign is complete and the team anticipates work will be completed by fall 2024 with the final restoration of the streets and sidewalks taking place near the end of the project.

Brannan credited the watchful eye of Dick Zigun, a resident of the People’s Playground dubbed the “unofficial mayor of Coney Island.” Zigun first took note of the damaged sidewalk three years ago and was the one to bring the state of the walkways to Brannan’s attention.

Zigun said the prolonged lack of repair felt like “neglect by the city” — not only did the roadways make the streets look unattractive, but they also posed a safety risk.

“It could be excusable by things being lost track of due to COVID but if you’re not that forgiving, Justin suggests that the city often neglects the outer boroughs,” Zigun told Brooklyn Paper. “In terms of buttoning up projects the city did, things that would never be tolerated in Manhattan seem to be okay [in Brooklyn] and forgotten by the city.”

A map of where the sidewalk repairs will take place.
A map of where the sidewalk repairs will take place.Photo courtesy of Council Member Justin Brannan

Looking to the future, repair work — which began on Jan. 8 — is set to be completed by late spring.

“We all know this would never happen in Manhattan, so why should we just accept it in the so-called ‘outer’ boroughs,” Brannan said. “I refuse to let Coney Island be ignored.”

Update 1/10/2024 at 5:16 p.m.: This story has been updated to allow comment from DDC. An earlier version of this story said the project originally began in 2016.