A decision to reconstruct Coney Island’s iconic boardwalk by replacing its historic wooden planks with concrete is drawing a lot of criticism. The city is moving ahead with the plans, which were originally proposed during the Bloomberg administration as a way to make the boardwalk more resilient. However, critics are citing evidence that the boardwalk’s original wooden portions were actually much more hardy than any concrete areas during Hurricane Sandy.
Image via Leonard Zhukovsky
Evidence has shown that the original wooden portions of the 2.5-mile Riegelmann Boardwalk, spanning from W. 37th St. in Sea Gate to Brighton 14th St., withstood much more damage than its concrete counterparts when Hurricane Sandy swept through the region. However, the city protests that the new material, composed of concrete and recycled plastic lumber, would significantly extend the life of the boardwalk and prove more resilient in any future disasters.
As the city moves forward with its concrete conversion before the 2016 beach season, some members of New York’s city council are pushing to designate the 91-year-old boardwalk as a historic site before any construction takes place. Any changes to the boardwalk’s historic classification would hinder plans to alter its components. The request is currently under review with the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which will most likely take a year at least to arrive at a decision. Community activists have launched a petition on Change.org to sustain the boardwalk’s historic and iconic structures.