Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Coney Island Concrete "Boardwalk" Falling Apart

Parks Department spokeswoman Vickie Karp said the existing concrete boardwalk sections had “minor hairline cracks" that "pose no safety issues.”

Activist Todd Dobrin shows cracks in Coney Island boardwalk.
Hairline Cracks? Friends of the Boardwalk president Todd Dobrin shows "cracks" in Coney Island Boardwalk near 32nd street.

“This boardwalk is literally falling apart,” said Mr Dobrin. “It’s cracking, peeling and isn’t good for joggers and walkers.”

According to the Parks Department's press office though the newly installed concrete boardwalk have "minor hairline cracks." (Photo: Courtesy Todd Dobrin via NYC Park Advocates)

The City has refused to do engineering, or environmental studies before spending tens of millions of dollars to replace wood with the controversial concrete. The current design proposes to install solid concrete slabs that will be covered in part with plastic slats. This plan will be the prototype for future reconstructions.

Critics of the plan point to the lack of maintenance funds being allocated to care for the boardwalk as the main reason the city is pushing these plans through.

The community has raised a number of issues concerning the switch from wood to concrete: Heath-increased exposure to heat, greater impacts on joints, trip hazards; Esthetic - cracks, stains, and a loss of history.

There is also concern that the proposed plan will result in increased property damage as a result from storm surge waves hitting a concrete boardwalk.

Ida Sanoff points out that the existing boardwalk is constructed of porous wood slats with spaces between the planks. This soft, slatted surface aids in the dissipation of wave energy. An impermeable, concrete slab Boardwalk will also result in more storm water runoff and increased flooding on local streets said says.

"However, there is an alternative to concrete slab construction, the use of treated, non-rainforest wood or imitation wood planks, placed on spaced, vertical supports, not solid slabs."

Even though the community board voted overwhelming against the project in May, the Parks Department is moving ahead with the plan.

"They give lip service to community input, but the evidence is that they don't really care," said Rob Burstein of the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance.

The issue is expected to go before the Public Design Commission on October 24th, the mayoral appointed agency that has approved the these recent "pilot" re-designs which have resulted in these issues. - Geoffrey Croft


Activists yesterday charged that a controversial city plan to pave much of Coney Island’s fabled wooden board with concrete is literally crumbling, according to the New York Post.

Todd Dobrin, president of the grass-roots group Friends of the Boardwalk, said there’s already “well over 2,000 cracks” in the first two sections of the 2.5-mile Riegelmann Boardwalk that were replaced with concrete last year. And some of these sections, which total seven blocks in parts of Coney Island near Seagate and Brighton Beach near Ocean Parkway, are mysteriously even turning brown in color.

“This boardwalk is literally falling apart,” he said. “It’s cracking, peeling and isn’t good for joggers and walkers.”

Armed with photos and other evidence – including pieces of the concrete that have already broken off– Dobrin and other activists attended yesterday’s city Design Commission meeting to try convincing the Commission to reject a $10 million Parks Department pilot plan to cover other parts of the boardwalk in cement. The Commission opted to delay its vote until Oct. 24.

Parks Department spokeswoman Vickie Karp later said the existing concrete boardwalk sections are “structurally sound” and that the “minor hairline cracks" there "pose no safety issues.”

She said the Department would monitor the situation.

The proposed pilot project – which was rejected on an advisory level by Brooklyn Community Board 13 in May – calls for running a 12-foot-wide concrete path for emergency vehicles through a five-block area of the boardwalk near Coney Island Avenue in Brighton Beach. The path would take up 20 percent on the boardwalk area with the rest being artificial wood plank.

As more funding becomes available, officials hope to replace the rest of the boardwalk the same way—-except the historic Coney Island amusement district, which would remain all wood.

A broken-off piece of concrete from another section of the boardwalk. Although installed just a year ago concrete from the Coney Island Boardwalk has once again raised public safety, design environmental as well as cost concerns. In addition to the concrete chunks found, thousands of cracks have also appeared. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)

Negligence. For decades the City has refused to allocate adequate funds to maintain the historic boardwalk. Each year multiple lawsuits are filed against the city for injuries as a result. The City is using borrowed capital funds to deal with a lack of maintenance funds which has resulted in the use of concrete.

Read More:

New York Post - October 4, 2011 - By Rich Calder

New York Daily News - October 4th 2011 - By Erin Durkin

The Brooklyn Paper - October 12, 2011 - By Daniel Bush

A Walk In The Park - July 2, 2011

Brighton Beach's New Concrete “Boardwalk” Already Cracking

A Walk In The Park - June 14, 2011

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