Bye bye, bathrooms.
The city announced plans on Monday to move new high-rise restrooms from in front of pricey Brighton Beach condominiums to a nearby community center in a controversial decision that locals see as the city pandering to wealthy residents.
The Parks Department said the partially constructed bathrooms in front of the Oceana Condominiums will be relocated 350-feet down the Riegelmann Boardwalk to the Shorefront Y after a two-year battle with the Oceana residents, who even sued the city to halt the construction.
The department said its decision reflects the community’s concerns, but a longtime local who has been fighting to prevent Parks from converting the Boardwalk from wood to plastic and concrete said the department’s rationale smells fishy.
“I’ll be honest with you — I think they’re a bunch a hypocrites, because they said they were responding to community concerns and yet in the exact same area, the community has expressed concerns about a concrete Boardwalk and they won’t give the community the time of day,” said Ida Sanoff, a Boardwalk activist “Why aren’t they responsive to the whole community and not just the people in Oceana? … Follow the money.”
The department announced the original plans for the bathroom in 2013 but the construction was halted after the Oceana Homeowner’s Association sued the city for not following proper procedures, and a judge ordered Parks to conduct an environmental impact study before work could proceed.
The study was finished in 2014 and the city said the location was approved for the bathrooms, but last March the Parks Department introduced the idea of moving the bathrooms in front of the Shorefront Y.
The executive director of the Shorefront Y said she was only informed of the decision when the department made the official announcement this week.
“Up until now, Parks had no conservation with us,” said Susan Fox.
Residents have long speculated that the department’s about-face wasn’t about residents’ worries, but rather accommodating the wealthy.
But Parks insists its decision simply reflects the community’s feedback.
“After reviewing options for the Brighton comfort station from a planning and design perspective, and gathering feedback from local elected officials and community members, Parks has identified a new, more accessible location that better serves beachgoers,” said Maeri Ferguson, a spokeswoman for the Parks Department.
To make matters messier, some Oceana residents who fought for the relocation still aren’t happy. One local said he is glad he no longer has to worry about seeing the loo from his window, but the decision to keep the elevated bathrooms anywhere on the beach is ruining the ocean aesthetics.
“Of course I’m glad it is not going to be in front of a residential building, but this ugly thing shouldn’t be at the beach at all,” said Oceana resident Dmitry Geyber. “They destroyed the beach for another generation.”
The bathrooms will have two units about 15-feet wide, 12-feet high, and 60 feet long. The height is mandated by the federal government, which is paying for the new loos.
The city already done $5 million worth of work on the project, only half of which can be transferred to the new site, according to Parks.
The department said the new bathrooms are expected to be for the summer of 2017. This summer, temporary bathrooms will be installed at Coney Island Avenue before May 25.