Last Thursday, at the “Battle for the Boardwalk” hearing Judge Martin Solomon explained to lawyers representing New York City’s interests that they need to consider all effects changing the iconic boardwalk’s materials from wood to concrete and plastic will have on citizens, the city and the economy.
“There’s what we call the law of unintended consequences. Has the Parks Department considered the potential cost from slip-and-falls?” Solomon asked. “There’s a bunch of trial lawyers here waiting for that plastic.”
Solomon was referring to potential lawsuits brought by injured parties falling on the new plastic and concrete boardwalk against the city, perhaps claiming that plastic and concrete are more dangerous, causing more severe injuries upon impact.
The Coney Island-Brighton Beach Boardwalk Alliance brought the case agains the city, saying that it broke the law when the city replaced parts of the boardwalk with the new materials, cement and plastic, before thoroughly researching the effects of those materials on the area and the people there. The suit also adds that plastic and concrete will not last as long as wood and could even cause faster beach erosion.
Refusing to examine evidence, Judge Solomon explained: “I know more about the Boardwalk than anybody in this room. I’ve been up and down that Boardwalk, I’ve seen cars driving illegally on it, I’ve battled erosion on those beaches for years.”
Amy Rialton, attorney for the Coney-Brighton Alliance argued that there are laws which mandate environmental impact studies when something as unique and important as the Coney Island Boardwalk is vulnerable.
“The law calls for a study not just when a project affects the environment, but when it has potential to change the character of the neighborhood,” Rialton said.
Katy Kendall, lawyer representing the city said that all “this project is doing is replacing a boardwalk with a boardwalk.”
After hearing both sides Solomon told them he would inform them by mail of his decision within 60 days.
President of the Friends of the Boardwalk, Todd Dobrin, and one of the suit’s petitioners believes the judge will rule in the favor of his side.
“He was a good, strict judge who just wanted to hear the facts,” Dobrin said. “A concrete boardwalk is not a boardwalk. It’s a concrete driveway.”