Parks Department Chief Engineer John Natol seen here with Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski inspecting the repairs being made to the boardwalk last week near Beach 101st St. in Rockaway Beach. (Photo: Anthony Delmundo/for the New York Daily News)
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Boardwalk Slight - Coney-Brighton Beach Residents Demand If Rockaway Can Have Wood Why Can't We
"Research, what research. We didn't have time to do research; we had to spend the money!" - Parks Department Chief Engineer John Natoloi - November 2010
Boardwalk War: The city is using wood exclusively to repair a ten block section Rockaway Rockaway Beach boardwalk - after refusing to use wood solely to rebuild the Coney Island Boardwalk. In March the Mayoral appointed Public Design Commission unanimously approved the Parks Department's plan to use concrete on the historic Coney-Brighton Boardwalk instead of wood in what critics called a "sham" hearing. (Photo: Elizabeth Graham)
In November 2010, Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance President Rob Burstein attended a walk-through meeting on the boardwalk with politicians including Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Parks officials to go over the numerous "pilot projects" recently done which used recycled plastic lumber or concrete instead of wood.
Mr. Burstein asked Parks Department Chief Engineer John Natoloi what research had been done that suggested that concrete was the best, or even an appropriate material to spend $15 million dollars on the boardwalk.
"Research? What research? We didn't have time to do research; we had to spend the money!"
he famously replied.
"With respect to the diligence and quality of the Parks Department's efforts to appropriately care for our Boardwalk, this statement speaks for itself," said Mr. Burstein.
A city decision to repair an outer-borough boardwalk with wood has opponents of the Coney Island Boardwalk’s upcoming concrete makeover accusing the Parks Department of turning back on its word, according to the Bay News.
Agency officials have said repeatedly that repairing city boardwalks with wood was no longer a viable option — sparking the move to replace the iconic Coney Island Boardwalk with concrete and plastic lumber.
But the city began repairing a 10-block stretch of the longer, but far less exciting, Rockaway boardwalk with lumber last week — a move that has Coney Boardwalk advocates spitting nails.
“It’s an unbelievable slap in the face to our communities,” said Rob Burstein, the president of the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance. “It shows that it’s possible to have a wooden boardwalk.”
Friends of the Boardwalk founder Todd Dobrin was also outraged.
“I’m furious,” said Dobrin, who has been fighting the city’s plans to take away the Boardwalk’s cherished planks. “Every boardwalk should be treated equally.”
But city officials say they’re not flip-flopping.
“Under a full reconstruction of the Rockaway boardwalk, we would consider using concrete,” said Parks Department spokeswoman Meghan Lalor, who said repairs on the Rockaway boardwalk, which drew 3.6 million visitors last year, will replace planks Hurricane Irene turned into kindling last year.
A one-mile section of the 5.5-mile walk has already been paved over with concrete, Lalor noted.
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R–Queens) doled out $1.6 million in taxpayer dollars to help repair the Rockaway boardwalk.
That news wasn’t lost on critics who slammed Councilman Domenic Recchia (D–Coney Island) for supporting the city’s plan to replace the Boardwalk between Coney Island Avenue and Brighton 15th Street with concrete and recycled plastic lumber.
“We need elected officials to support the Boardwalk here the way that they did in Queens,” Burstein said.
Recchia declined to comment on this story.
In 2010, the Parks Department proposed replacing the entire Boardwalk with concrete and plastic lumber — except for a four-block section in the historic amusement district between W. 15th and W. 10th streets — as part of its $30-million renovation of the aging 2.7-mile span, which opened in 1923.
The agency tested the materials on two sections of the walkway in 2011, claiming that concrete was sturdier and cheaper than using real wood.
But preservationists balked at the suggestion, claiming the plan would ruin the look and feel of the historic Boardwalk and turn the rest of the strip into a sidewalk.
The Public Design Commission gave the Parks Department the OK to tear out the Boardwalk in Brighton Beach — and install a 12-foot-wide concrete lane for emergency vehicles and a 19-foot-wide lane built out of recycled plastic boards for pedestrians — after agency officials testified that wood was no longer a viable option.
Yet residents say the current repair project in Queens proves otherwise.
“I can’t understand their reasoning,” said Brighton Beach resident Arlene Brenner. “It’s ridiculous.”
Separate and unequal: Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance President Rob Burstein is furious that the city is repairing the Queens boardwalk with wood but paving over large sections of Brooklyn’s seaside walkway with concrete in yet another "pilot" program. (Photo: Elizabeth Graham)
Bay News - May 23, 2012 - By Daniel Bush
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