A crumbling esplanade connects Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach Park. A chain link fence was built by the late Jack Laboz in the 80's to prevent the general public from accessing the promenade in front of his large house at 293 Amherst St. between Amherst & Beaumont Sts. along the waterfront. In December 1993, a State court ruled in favor of Mr. Laboz, "a politically connected Brooklyn developer" which allowed the fence to remain. (Photo: Brooklyn View)
Brooklyn leaders are pushing a public-promenade plan that would reconnect the exclusive seaside neighborhood of Manhattan Beach with the rest of the borough’s less affluent southern shorefront, according to the New York Post.
Under the proposal, an eight-block rickety walkway that was fenced off from "outsiders" through a 1993 court order would be reopened and replaced with a new promenade. It would connect with the neighborhood’s public beach to the east and the Brighton Beach and Coney Island boardwalk to the west.
"Waterfront views should never be blocked," said Theresa Scavo, chairwoman of Brooklyn Community Board 15. "The city is finding ways to bring greenways for walking and biking to Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn. Why can’t Southern Brooklyn have something like that?"
The proposal is one of many being pitched by the Brooklyn Borough Board — comprised of Borough President Marty Markowitz and community board leaders like Scavo — for consideration as the city Planning Department drafts its "Vision 2020" comprehensive citywide waterfront development plan.
Other Brooklyn goals of note include establishing recreational access at both Plumb Beach in Mill Basin and polluted Coney Island Creek, bringing back ferry service to the 39th Street, 69th Street and Steeplechase Piers and widening a heavily used waterfront bike path running from Bensonhurst, past the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and to Bay Ridge.
The weatherworn Manhattan Beach cement esplanade dates back to the mid 1800s and was once heavily used.
But a state judge in 1993 ruled it private property belonging to shorefront homeowners by siding with Jack Laboz, a politically connected Brooklyn developer.
Laboz six years earlier blocked off part of the walkway by erecting a massive fence behind his grand home at 293 Amherst St. His deep pockets helped withstand a legal challenge by some of Manhattan Beach’s roughly 800 homeowners.
Scavo said that, if the city gets involved, she believes it could use its clout to easily overturn that ruling because some property deeds describe the esplanade as a pedestrian street.
New York Post - November 29, 2010 - By Rich Calder
New York Times - November 28, 1993 - By Lynette Holloway
New York Times - December 26, 1993