The Bloomberg-appointed New York City Public Design Commission voted to allow the Parks Department to change the Coney Island boardwalk forever Monday night.
Despite an impassioned opposition present during the vote, the Commission unanimously approved a cost-saving measure to replace the 89-year-old, iconic wooden planks along a stretch of the boardwalk with plastic and concrete.
However, there are conditions. From The New York Post:
The mayoral-appointed commissioners approved the plan under the condition that the Parks Department “consider” studying several options. The options include reviewing whether a feasible wood alternative could be found; and shortening the size of the cement path, and then moving it to the street side of the boardwalk, rather than leaving it in the center.
However, the conditions are non-binding -- meaning the Parks Department doesn’t have to include them when breaking ground.
A rowdy crowd of 50 gathered at the meeting Monday, which the Observer describes as feeling "at times like a botany lecture and a carnival sideshow, replete with boos and cheers." According to the Times, "One speaker waved an ugly chunk of concrete, while another rhapsodized about the slant of sunlight on real wood."
"It’s a travesty,” said Rob Burstein, president of the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance. “This makes a mishmosh of the Boardwalk and creates both an aesthetic and a maintenance nightmare."
Last month, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe told the Times, "Suggesting that you can only have wooden Boardwalks because that’s what they were originally built of is like saying you should only have cobblestone streets."
It's unclear when the Parks Department will install the plastic and concrete along the five-block stretch from the Brighton Beach section of the walkway from Coney Island Avenue to Brighton 15th Street. If the renovation goes well, Bloomberg and the Parks Department will likely make the same change to the entire 42-block boardwalk, save the section next to the amusement park.