Does A Boardwalk Actually Need Boards?
The question above might seem silly, but the city’s boardwalks in both Rockaway and Coney Island are getting a makeover that includes the use of custom-made concrete “planks” that are specially constructed to replace the wooden planks that we have been used to for more than a century. While there are a number of sections of the new, composite material already installed in Rockaway, there have been only sporadic complaints about the new material. Coney Island, however, is another story. There is a vocal opposition forming under the rubric of Friends of the Boardwalk. “This is violating the one piece of solitude in a city that is already a concrete jungle,” one activist told reporters. “The slabs are hideous and they make baby carriages and strollers and wheelchairs shake, rattle and roll.” A spokesperson for the Parks Department said, “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 composite rather than wood, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, saves 390 square miles of Brazilian rainforest every 20 years. The use of the new material is one of his initiatives for the greening of New York City. Does a boardwalk actually need boards? More than 20 years ago, Wave Publisher Leon Locke posited a concrete boardwalk in his editorials. We have seen nothing since to change our minds. Our boardwalk is rapidly deteriorating. Runners in the recent Rotary Ocean Run complained of protruding nails, rotted boards and generally dangerous conditions. Using the new composite to repair the boardwalk would be quicker, cheaper and more green. The program should continue.