2010-01-08 / Top Stories

Boardwalk Repairs Shut Access Till Spring

By Miriam Rosenberg

Fencing shows where boardwalk repairs are to start on Beach 24 Street. New boards and benches show where previous work on Beach 23 Street ended last year. Fencing shows where boardwalk repairs are to start on Beach 24 Street. New boards and benches show where previous work on Beach 23 Street ended last year. After years of deterioration, several areas of Rockaway’s boardwalk are now set to undergo major renovation, officials of the New York City Depart - ment of Parks and Recreation told The Wave this week.

Last month, fencing went up to secure the area from Beach 24 Street to Beach 27 Street. A federal stimulus package and citywide mayoral contract is making the boardwalk repairs possible, said a representative for the city’s Department of Parks and Rec - reation.

“Several sections of the boardwalk (Beach 24th to 27th Streets, Beach 55th to 60th Streets and 74th to 81st Streets) are being redone under two contracts, a federal stimulus package for Rockaway Beach boardwalk, and a citywide Mayoral contract (also working in Coney Island),” said Trish Bertuccio, a spokesperson for Parks, in an email earlier this week.

Entry at the top of this ramp on Beach 26 Street is blocked, because it and the ramp on Beach 25 are to be repaired. More fencing blocking the boardwalk at Beach 27 Street can also be seen. Entry at the top of this ramp on Beach 26 Street is blocked, because it and the ramp on Beach 25 are to be repaired. More fencing blocking the boardwalk at Beach 27 Street can also be seen. She continued, “The contractors are doing the whole boardwalk to get the project done faster so it can be reopened by Memorial Day weekend, in time for residents to enjoy the boardwalk for the beach season. In addition to the boardwalk, the ramps and stairs in these areas will be reconstructed as needed.”

While these repairs are sorely needed, residents living from Beach 24 to Beach 27 Streets were originally upset that access to the boardwalk and the beach would be completely cut off until the project is completed.

Adding to the community’s ire was a completion date of fall 2011, according to signage at the site.

“As per the sign that was posted just yesterday [December 28] and the workers to whom we talked, the project will take at least one year, meaning no access to the boardwalk or beach during this time,” wrote S.C. Samoy, the president of the Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association in an e-mail.

Samoy and representatives of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance and the Rockaway Beach Neighborhood Asso - cia tion originally felt that the project should be done half and half or in sections – the way repairs to the boardwalk from Beach 19 to Beach 23 Streets were done.

When Samoy was told earlier this week of the revised schedule she issued the following statement.

“The Beachside Bungalow Preserva - tion Association is happy that the east end of the Rockaways will have access to its beaches for the summer from Beach 24 to Beach 27 Street, where the boardwalk is being replaced,” said Samoy.

Samoy said she believed that help from elected officials, CB 14, neighbors and other civics “all helped in encouraging the Parks Department to respond to our concerns and to honor this schedule.”

Jonathan Gaska, the district manager for Community Board 14, said that there would be a level of inconvenience during the repair period, but “we will have a brand new boardwalk.” He added, “If it’s done right it won’t be an issue for another 50 years.”

Gaska said the community board’s most important issue is access and that it would not stand for an entire summer with no way to get to the boardwalk or beach on the affected streets.

In its June 20, 2008 issue The Wave reported on a boardwalk revitalization plan that included the playground on Beach 81 Street, Beach 101 Street, Beach 104 to Beach 106, Beach 77 to Beach 81, Beach 44 to Beach 60, Beach 23 to Beach 27 Streets.

“The construction in the [Beach] 20s started in late December,” said Ber - tuccio.

The most deteriorated portions of Rockaway’s boardwalk will be replaced under the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk Rehabilitation Project. According to the signage, “The existing hardwood timbers and decking will be replaced with custom-made concrete planks so the new boardwalk is more environmentally-friendly and resilient in addition to having a lower carbon footprint, lower maintenance costs and less likelihood to deteriorate to unsafe conditions.”

Using concrete slates instead of wood is part of Mayor Bloomberg’s initiatives for the greening of New York City.

According to the Parks Department’s website, by using concrete and other materials instead of tropical hardwood, approximately 390 square miles of rainforest are saved every 20 years. The replacement materials could last up to five times longer than the wooden boards normally used on boardwalks. Environmentally friendly materials will also be used where possible for ramps, railings, benches and lighting.

To avoid any further confusion, the Parks Department will remove the signs indicating a fall 2011 completion date and replace them with ones showing the May 2010 targeted date.

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