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Brighton Beach says ‘Nyet’ to cement Boardwalk plan

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Brighton Beach residents are blasting the city’s plan to turn their beloved Boardwalk into a concrete esplanade.

“This is very upsetting,” said resident Sabina Mazur. “It’s not going to be a Boardwalk anymore!”

Mazur was just one of many residents — many of them Russian immigrants — furious with the city’s Public Design Commission, which approved the controversial plan to replace the iconic wooden walkway between Brighton 15th Street and Coney Island Avenue with a 12-foot-wide cement lane that would be flanked by 19-foot-wide pathways built out of recycled plastic lumber.

Moscow native Rushana Saitsova said her favorite thing about Brighton Beach is its historic, 79-year-old promenade.

“There’s nothing like this in Moscow,” said Saitsova, who exercises daily on the pathway. “I love coming here — it would be terrible if the Boardwalk was cement.”

Still, some residents approve of the city’s plan.

“Wood gets damaged very quickly,” said Vladimir Symen. “Cement will last a long time.”

That’s exactly why the Parks Department proposed replacing the entire Boardwalk with concrete and plastic lumber — save for a four-block section in Coney Island’s legendary amusement district between W. 15th and W. 10th streets — back in 2010 as it embarked on a $30-million rehab of the aging 2.7-mile span, which opened in 1923.

The agency tested out the materials on two sections of the Boardwalk — including a stretch between Ocean Parkway and Brighton First Street in Brighton Beach — in 2011, arguing that concrete is sturdier and cheaper than real wood.

Last spring, Community Board 13 rejected the plan to replace the Brighton Beach portion of the Boardwalk with cement — and in October the design commission ordered up another review of the project after opponents testified that the slabs of concrete that the city laid down were already crumbling.

But the commission ultimately signed off on the plan after parks officials explained that they considered using other materials, such as Black Locust and Kebony woods, but found that concrete and recycled plastic lumber were still the best options.

“We would greatly prefer to use wood,” Alex Hart, a top Parks designer told the Public Design Commission. “But there’s nothing out there that will work.”

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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