The city couldn’t hold it any longer.
Construction of new bathrooms for the Brighton Beach boardwalk finally began on Feb. 12. The controversial comfort station, which was originally supposed to be built by the boardwalk near Brighton 15th Street after the old one was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy, is now being built near Coney Island Avenue, following local outcry over the previous location.
The start of construction comes as a relief for many in the community.
“It had to be done. People have been without a bathroom for the last five years since Sandy,” said Community Board 13 district manager Eddie Mark. “It’s long-awaited and needed for the neighborhood.”
The public toilets are being built with federal funds at a cost of $4.3 million, and are expected to be finished in time for beach season, according to the city agency in charge of he work.
“It’s started. We have an estimated completion date of the spring,” said a spokesman for the Department of Design and Construction.
The original plan to build the bathrooms near the upscale Oceana Condominiums —perched atop 20-foot-tall concrete stilts — ran into fierce opposition from local condo owners, who even sued the city, complaining that the high-rise toilets would lower their property values by blocking their views of the water.
The 2015 to relocate the loos 350-feet down the Riegelmann Boardwalk to a site near the Shorefront Y led many locals to complain the city was pandering to the rich.
The start of work on the bathrooms marks the end of four years of squabbling, and Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D–Brighton Beach) — a vocal opponent of the original location — said he’s happy have it settled.
“This is an issue that people continually ask me about in the community and I’m pleased that we have a successful resolution,” he said in a press release.
Not everyone believes the new site is suitable, however. Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Brighton Beach) wrote a letter to the Parks Department in 2016 arguing that the bathrooms could turn into dangerous debris and damage the Shorefront Y Jewish community center nearby in the event of another superstorm.
The Oceana condo owners lodged a similar complaint in 2013, but Deutsch pointed out a fundamental difference — unlike the high-end condo complex, the Shorefront Y provided meals, clothing, heaters and other services during Superstorm Sandy, and so needs to remain secure.
“I have a significant concern that flying debris from the comfort station could have an unfortunate and direct impact on the ability of the Shorefront Y to provide these essential services,” he wrote.