Coney’s Boardwalk makeover — in concrete — put on hold

Wood vs. Concrete: Friends of the Boardwalk President Todd Dobrin holds up pieces of each material on the Coney Island boardwalk, where residents are pushing for a wooden deck.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

The Coney Island Boardwalk’s concrete makeover will have to wait — for now.

The Parks Department’s plan to remove wood from a section of the Boardwalk suffered a setback on Monday, as the Public Design Commission ordered another review of the controversial project after hearing testimony from critics who say that a concrete deck would ruin the look and feel of the historic 88-year-old walkway.

The city plans to install concrete and recycled plastic lumber on a stretch of the Boardwalk between Coney Island Avenue and Brighton 15th Street, after testing the material on two small sections of the walkway last year despite opposition from residents and Community Board 13.

Parks officials have argued that concrete is sturdier — and, at $90 per square foot, about $40 per foot cheaper than replacing the Boardwalk’s weathered planks with real wood.

The proposal — part of a larger, $30-million renovation to the aging, 2.7-mile Boardwalk — was expected to pass, and likely lead to the paving of the rest of the walkway, except for a four-block section in the historic amusement district between W. 15th and W. 10th streets.

But the design commission put the makeover on hold until the Parks Department can produce a more detailed study of the project’s environmental impact. The panel must approve the project for it to move forward.

Critics of a concrete Boardwalk cheered the decision.

“It’s a tremendous success for the community,” said Todd Dobrin, president of Friends of the Boardwalk, who produced a study showing concrete won’t last on the Boardwalk. “Concrete is just not going to work.”

Parks spokeswoman Meghan Lalor said the city is evaluating the decision.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310.

This is what many are trying to avoid.

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