Dobrin Dissapointed with Design Commission’s Decision on Coney Island’s Boardwalk

Todd Dobrin Examining Boardwalk in Brighton Beach

Despite the protests of community groups in Coney Island and Brighton Beach, New York’s Design Commission gave its approval to a Parks Department plan to remove a broken down wooden section of Brighton Beach’s historic boardwalk and replace it with cement blocks and plastic planks.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Todd Dobrin, president of the grass-roots group Friends of the Boardwalk.

“The community showed the commission it doesn’t want concrete and that concrete is going to bring even more problems [than wood] in the long run, but they didn’t listen.”

Dobrin and 47 other people came to speak to the commission before they took their vote, only three of which spoke in favor of the plastic and concrete plan. Even within members of the commission itself were those who were critical of the plan.

One commission member, James Polshek, said the design was “silly.” He also said that the plan was ugly, including a concrete path through the center of the walkway. Polshek suggested keeping the concrete to the northern side of the boardwalk, the side closer to the businesses and streets, so that the boardwalk can at least continue to look like a boardwalk.

Even the chairperson of the commission, Signe Nelsen suggested that the city begin to grow their own trees in upstate New York so that they would have an unlimited supply of hardwood to replenish the boardwalk with its own wood.

The decision of the commission to approve the plan flies directly in the face of the desire of the community as expressed in a vote by Brooklyn Community Board 13 which decided in May 2010 to reject a pilot project on an advisory level to replace the wooden planks with plastic and cement.

There are already two parts of the boardwalk that have been replaced with cement blocks. A small western section near Seagate, and a small eastern section near Ocean Parkway for a total of seven blocks out of a total length of 2.7 miles. Unfortunately those seven blocks of cement are already teaming with thousands of cracks.


Shari has certainly been around the block. As a teacher, writer, former CEO and present day master chef, Shari can cover a human interest story with a flare and style hard to match anywhere. Born and raised in the streets, schools and institutions of Brooklyn, Shari is the epitome of Brooklyn life. Contact Shari at shari(at)