Despite the Brighton Beach Community Board vote last May rejecting the Parks Department plan to pour concrete over the iconic wooden planks of the historic Brighton Beach Boardwalk, city officials are planning to remake the Boardwalk in concrete anyway, in complete disregard for the wishes of the residents there.
Concrete Plan Advancing Despite CB Vote
The Borough Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey announced on Monday that his department will forge ahead with the plan, which will cover a 12-foot strip of wood down the center of the Boardwalk with poured concrete in the middle and plastic “lumber” on each side. They are planning on requesting approval for this plan later this month from the city’s Public Design Commission.
Concrete Better, Or Is It?
The reason for the change, Parks Department officials say, is that concrete is less expensive, stronger, and can withstand the Boardwalk’s vehicular traffic better than wood.
Todd Dobrin, president of Friends of the Boardwalk and a former member of Community Board 13, the CB that voted down the Parks Department proposal by a 21-7 vote last May, begs to differ with the Parks Department’s assessment of the benefits of concrete. Dobrin says he has found hundreds of cracks in the parts of the Boardwalk which have already had their concrete makeover.
“There are so many cracks in the concrete,” Dobrin asserted.
The Parks Department counters that the cracks in the concrete are superficial.
The plan that CB 13 rejected will cover the Boardwalk in concrete from Brighton 15th Street to Coney Island Avenue and will cost the city $7.4 million. However, that is only the first phase of a more comprehensive plan, the eventual re-tooling of the entire 42 blocks of Boardwalk in concrete, aside from some short stretches near the Coney Island Amusement Park district.
Parks Dept Wont Let Vote Deter Them
Parks officials say they were disappointed with the CB 13 vote, but will not let the vote get in the way of doing what they believe is right, and will now think over whether to change the plan or move ahead with it as is.
“They give lip service to community input, but the evidence is that they don’t really care,” Rob Burstein of the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance said Monday.
The plan to place a 12-foot strip of concrete down the middle of the Boardwalk is actually an already toned down version of an original Parks Department plan to make the segment totally concrete. A huge outcry from politicians and opponents forced the department to back down from its maximalist version.
Concrete is Not a Well-Loved Material in Brighton Beach
But Boardwalk purists say that any concrete is too much concrete. Not only will the concrete lessen the special look and feel of the Boardwalk as an historic part of New York, but concrete is also less durable than wood.
“We believe the whole Boardwalk is historic,” said Todd Dobrin.”You don’t just concrete over it. They wouldn’t concrete over Central Park or Prospect Park.”
“The definition of lunacy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”