Sound Off to the Editor - Brooklyn Paper

Sound Off to the Editor

To the editor,

The Riegelmann Boardwalk, known colloquially as the Coney Island Boardwalk, was completed in 1923, and its rustic style and wood paving has delighted visitors and Brooklyn residents ever since.

This structure possesses considerable historic value, and we believe it is the city’s obligation to safeguard the Coney Island Boardwalk along with those qualities that have made it a Brooklyn icon. Local residents deserve nothing less than the world-class Boardwalk they are accustomed to. In October 2010, however, a Bloomberg-administered Parks Department began gutting wood from sections of the Coney Island Boardwalk and replacing them with concrete slabs through a series of “pilot studies.” This designation enabled the replacements to circumvent environmental studies and regulatory oversight, as well as public scrutiny. As a result, the considerable amount of criticism generated by the project had no official venue to express itself, and community residents had little opportunity to affect the rapid pace at which the Boardwalk was repaved. More importantly, however, we are concerned that significant safety concerns about storm surge impacts have been and continue to be ignored.

In March 2013, Community Board 13 sent a letter to the Brooklyn parks commissioner requesting a moratorium on any and all work done on the beach and Boardwalk (save for emergency repairs) until adequate engineering and environmental studies had been done. It is our understanding that a new concrete-slab pilot study is set to begin construction shortly, between Coney Island Avenue and Brighton 15th Street. This has prompted many of our constituents to call our offices and express their considerable opposition.

In addition to concerns about the aesthetics of the concrete slabs, there is potential evidence that the concrete may have exacerbated storm-surge damage during Hurricane Sandy. A few years ago, as part of an aforementioned pilot study, a portion of the wooden Boardwalk at Ocean Parkway was replaced with concrete. Community residents have provided documentation of what appears to be a dramatic difference in storm-surge damage at the concrete section of the Boardwalk as compared to the wooden sections surrounding it. Essentially, there appears to be marked erosion under the concrete section and none under the wooden section. Eight to ten feet of sand piled into the street adjacent to the concrete section as compared to mere inches of sand on streets adjacent to the wooden sections on either side of it. We have also been informed that floodwater levels in buildings adjacent to the concrete section were double to almost triple those in buildings adjacent to the wooden sections.

As further evidence, the PlaNYC report, A Stronger, More Resilient New York, has documented that a breach occurred at Ocean Parkway — precisely where a concrete portion exists — and flood waters came almost one-and-one-half miles inland as a result. Additional organizations that are in opposition to the use of concrete along the boardwalk include the Coney Boardwalk Alliance, and the Natural Resources Protection Association.

In light of the outpouring of community concerns and the aforementioned evidence that the wooden structure could have possibly mitigated the impact of the surge better than the concrete portions, we believe that further research is warranted before any replacement work proceeds. The Coney Island Boardwalk serves as the first line of defense for local residents and businesses, and must be fortified as such. Furthermore, as it was in 1923, the opinion that wooden boardwalks are simply more charming than those paved in cement continues to prevail. Many business owners elected to invest in a location on or near to the Coney Island Boardwalk specifically because of the appeal its picturesque wooden surface holds for the eye — specifically, those of potential customers and tourists. Therefore, there is a reasonable concern amongst merchants and residents that the Boardwalk will be repaved with cement, and that foot traffic, along with commerce, will diminish as a result.

We urge the administration to place a moratorium on laying additional concrete slabs across the Boardwalk and take careful consideration of public safety, aesthetic, and community concerns in this matter, before moving forward with this agenda. We are also aware the Department of Parks and Recreation did an extensive analysis weighing the different options regarding the use of various materials for Boardwalk repairs and maintenance. As a result of their analysis, they concluded that the use of concrete for Boardwalk repairs was the best course of action from an environmental and resiliency perspective. We would be very interested in being briefed on the results of their analysis and the information they learned, and to open a dialogue about potential alternatives.

Councilmen Chaim Deutsch (D–Brighton Beach), Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island), and Mark Levine (D–West Harlem).

This is a copy of a letter sent to
Mayor DeBlasio

Coney history

To the editor,

I think that it’s a wonderful idea to bring back the Astroland Rocket back home to Coney Island (“Rocket returns! Coney spacecraft to become star at Wonder Wheel Park,” June 6).

If we turn back the clocks to 1962, we can re-create the rocket ride ship, enabling students to experience a simulated spacecraft launch. The exploration of space is an engine for creation and has motivated millions of young people to engage vigorously in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs in order to be part of enhancing our quality of life.

The collaboration of the Coney Island History Project, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration would be extremely instrumental in educating, discovering, and infusing the workforce with new young talent from decade to decade — NASA has launched numerous math and science-based education programs designed to increase S.T.E.M. literacy among students at all age levels and from all sorts of backgrounds.

As an educator and community education advocate in Coney Island, I feel students would be totally engaged in learning about the history of Coney Island and also about studying space exploration. Also, I would like to see our local vocational high-school students involved in the extensive repair and restoration of this craft. If they can build houses and robots, let’s talk about having them engaged in Coney Island history. Then they can have something to write about in their literacy and writing classes. This program would be another home-run for Coney Island, as local students would be making local history.Scott Krivitsky

The author is a teacher at PS 188
in Coney Island.

Crater city

To the editor,

I was upset, but not surprised, to read that Alan Magill had a fall on Kings Highway and Coney Island Avenue (“Fall-se pride,’ Sound off to the Editor, May 16). This area, which is a block from my senior center and, therefore, visited by hundreds of senior citizens almost every day, is horrendous. Besides coping with broken sidewalks, we have to deal with non-stop traffic whenever we try to cross the streets. The traffic lights in this area do very little to help make crossing the streets any easier or safer because careless drivers speed through the lights or make reckless turns at full speed while pedestrians have the right of way and are trying to cross. Many of my friends hobble across the streets clinging to walkers or canes. The drivers around them do not seem to care.

I find that most sidewalks in Brooklyn are not any safer than the roads. Bicyclists zoom across them not caring who is in their way. Most of the sidewalks are cracked and full of holes. Wherever I go, I have to walk with my head down so I can watch for cracks and potholes, etc. I have had several falls and broken bones. I also have to look out for empty soda and beer cans, and other trash constantly littering the sidewalks. It’s a miracle Alan did not break any bones.

I wish the city would do something about the hazardous conditions on our sidewalks and our roads. I and my friends would like to be able to walk in safety, with our heads up enjoying the lush foliage, trees and flowers all around us, instead of having to be constantly on the lookout for cars, cracks and trash whenever we venture outdoors.

Elaine Kirsch



To the editor,

Once again, there’s been another gun shooting, and of course loss of life. When I was in high school we had men and women guidance counselors for boys and girls with problems they could not share with their parents. Why do we seem to concern ourselves after the fact, when there are signs that a teen seems troubled? Don’t you think instead of waiting for more and more violence to take place, that evaluation programs should start in kindergarten to observe children who show violent tendencies?

Another loss of live — this time not by gun violence but by a stabbing. Another child gone while another child is hanging on to life. At what point to we really take mental illness seriously? Enough is enough. I wish all local politicians would take a stand and show real concerns for all the children they represent instead of giving lip service.

As a youngster going to the movies every Saturday and rooting for the good guys, I never felt that I had to do damage to the bad people because of the shootings I saw on screen. I always knew right from wrong. Then again I can only speak for myself and not others.

Jerry Sattler

Brighton Beach

Beached biz

To the editor,

Manhattan Beach officially opened Memorial Day Weekend and closes on Labor Day. During that time, the bathrooms are open, lifeguards are on duty, and parking is $20 on weekends and $6 during the week.

The problem is the concession stand is hardly ever open. People are stuck on the beach for hours without being able to purchase food or drink. If you remove your car out of the lot, to purchase food, you get charged again to re-enter. The proprietor should understand that when he signs an agreement with the city, to open the stand, he is obligated to open for the entire season! He should not be able to pick and choose what day he should open for business, just because it will be a slow day. These are the risks that goes along with a seasonal business.Andrew Feinstein

Manhattan Beach

Dem dimwits

To the editor,

So, they want to hold the Democratic convention at the new Barclays Center. Will Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Pitbull, and Nicki Minaj be singing during intermission? Will the Nets and the Harlem Globetrotters be there too?

I think it’s a weird choice. What about holding it at Brooklyn College or another borough college? A school or university should host the convention, not some basketball-concert arena.

Name withheld upon request

Map flap

To the editor,

This is to point out a fundamental error in the caption to the two maps illustrating the article, “Park it at the park! Prospect Park getting new lot, pedestrian path” (online May 12).

The caption says that the new Lefrak Center is in the center of each map, both the “before” and the “after” views. This is not true; what is shown in the center of each map is the Concert Grove. In the “before” picture a bit of the old skating rink can be seen at the far upper right edge. In the “after” picture, that area shows a bit of the new Esplanade and restored Music Island. The Lefrak Center is located where the old parking lot used to be, considerably to the left of the maps.Margaret Hagen

The author is a park volunteer.

Americans first

To the editor,

I would like to know who our state officials are loyal to? Are they helping Americans or foreign immigrants?

I was born and raised in America, and I am just able to make ends meet. I applied for state aid and was rejected due to income requirements. On the other hand, as soon as an immigrant comes to America, they immediately apply for welfare and state aid, and get it. They do not pay taxes and put nothing back into the economy. Most of them do not even speak any English.

Case in point: I went to a supermarket to buy some groceries and a Russian immigrant was in front of me. She paid with a benefits’ card. The cashier even had to show her how to use it. As I watched her pull out her card I saw credit cards and $20 bills in her wallet. If you are receiving state aid, how could you have a credit card when you need a bank account to get one? What makes me more angry is that when I left the store, I saw her loading the groceries into a luxury car.

Why isn’t the state investigating these people more thoroughly? Guess the state cares more about the immigrants than the struggling Americans who really need the aid.Robert from Brighton Beach

Illegals’ solution

To the editor,

People who come here illegally should not be permitted to vote. However I believe it is necessary to relax our standards. Illegal immigrants and undocumented civilians should serve an apprenticeship of five years where they can care for the disabled and infirm. My father, Hyman Abosh, was the victim of a hit-and-run accident in 1993, and was an invalid for the last two years of his life.

This would be a constructive slash to our Medicare and Medicaid budgets. If there were no complaints about their work, they could become naturalized citizens because they will have earned their place in American society. President Bill Clinton said, “Give something to get something,” while President Lyndon Johnson said, “Fair exchange is no robbery.”

I believe this would be a blessed relief to the disabled and invalid, who would not lose their life savings to our health care system, and it would be more humane and efficient.Elliott Abosh

Brighton Beach

Traffic woes

To the editor,

One of the most pressing issues facing Brooklyn is the ever-increasing traffic congestion in residential neighborhoods, exacerbated by parking on streets and double-parked delivery trucks. The building of multi-family dwellings on formerly single-family lots, and rising affluence among Brooklyn residents who have several cars per family, is making it exceedingly difficult to move about. Many elderly Brooklynites rarely use their vehicles for fear that they will be forced to park blocks away from their homes.

As we have seen with the Second Avenue subway construction — in progress since the Great Depression and still incomplete for assorted reasons — construction of new subterranean lines will not benefit New Yorkers in the short term.

Three viable alternatives: additional elevated trains, increased city-owned park-and-rides where drivers can park and then utilize public transportation, and more Select Bus Service routes with dedicated lanes allowing for speedy rides. Elevated trains might be a noisy eyesore, but hey this is New York!

Frank D’Amico, Sr.

Bay Ridge

Class war

To the editor,

Sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education, our first black president is sending his own children to private school while he blocks every attempt to use vouchers to give poor kids an equally good education — all the while going on about how income inequality will lead to opportunity inequality.

What a fine sense of humor our hope-and-change president has. Everybody get the joke? Anybody laughing? He can call the next voucher bill the “Go To School With Malia and Sasha Act.” Might be a little tougher to veto that one.

Stephen Finger, M.D.

Mill Basin

Martial smarts

To the editor,

The passage of a bill sponsored by upstate State Senator Joe Griffo (R-Rome, N.Y.) to legalize mixed martial arts is great news. It will be interesting to see if Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will allow a vote on a companion bill in his chamber. Mixed martial arts is a rapidly growing sport already legal in other states. It rivals both wrestling and boxing in fans and attendance for pay-per-view events. Why should we miss out on the jobs, economic growth, and new tax revenues?

If Gov. Cuomo, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Senate Leader Dean Skelos, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and members of the State Legislature cannot work out their differences on the issues of the day, send them to the Octagon! Ditto for Mayor DeBlasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and councilmembers. They can settle their disagreements on the mat! These would be sporting events voters would pay top dollar to seeLarry Penner

Great Neck, N.Y.

‘They won’

To the editor,

Much of the political scuttlebutt of the day is about winning or maligning “others” — rarely, if ever, is it about presenting intelligent ideas and solutions that actually pertain to the wants and needs of the citizenry, whom politicians office are sworn to serve.

I watched the ceremony for the 9-11 memorial museum’s opening with tears in my heart and eyes, and I thought to myself that “they” won. The unabashed and undeniable loss of freedoms and privacy in the U.S. since 9-11 speaks to the fears that the terrorists hoped to instill in the spirit of the country, and so, they indeed won.

One example is the mere existence and intense growth of the likes of the National Security Agency tells me that “they” won. The winners also include many one-percenters of the controlling class, along with their larger-than-life corporate partners. There are many positive and wonderful examples of their work in giving back to society, but the evil-doers are gaining traction and over-the-top influence within our federal and state governments, and it is downright scary.

Another example is the debate between the Federal Communications Commission and the government known as net neutrality — another significant attempt to control by corralling and snooping upon everyone via the internet.

Technological advances in the form of computer and mobile devices that rely on a handful of global communication entities does not honor, let alone protect, our privacy. Instead, they herd all that we are, and do, and share via these devices and service providers into neatly stored meta-data streams in perfectly cooled data centers around the country and globe.

The differences between the “outsider” terrorists as defined by the perpetrators of the 9-11 horrors, and the now-largely expanded homegrown terrorists have faded. Please, everyone, vote. Vote in every election, and vote with your head and heart for I do believe that if we follow our heart and spirit that we will vote for humanity and fairness for all.

Yes, I was tearfully moved watching the museum dedication, but the tears were for the immense loss of life, the destruction, and for the sad changes to our way of life. “They” won.Barry Brothers


Simple pleasures

To the editor,

This morning, with the threat of rain looming, I took my umbrella with me, or so I thought. I took a car service to work and when I got to my office I saw that although I was holding my briefcase, I couldn’t say the same about my umbrella.

I had a sinking feeling that I had left my rain protector in the car or at home. At lunchtime I needed to go back home and it was no surprise that the missing umbrella was nowhere to be found. Adding insult to injury, when I called car service a few minutes later, I had to take a an old umbrella from the closet that I had avoided conscientiously for years for many reasons. I walked out of my building and saw the same driver from four hours ago. Hoping against hope, I asked him if he had found my umbrella. He picked up my umbrella from near his seat and handed it to me. “Is this yours?” he asked, not realizing he was intruding on the sweetness of my reunion. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that mean so much. Alan Magill


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