2011-06-03 / Letters

A Boardwalk Does Need Boards

Dear Editor, When I think of Rockaway I think of many of the burdens placed on my community. I think of the preponderance of elderly, infirmed and socially at-risk individuals placed in our community in the over 30 health related facilities and institutions. I think of the preponderance of the isolated poor in our vast tracts of public housing (50% of the public housing in Queens County).

When I think of the things we are lacking: movie theaters, museums, concert halls, bowling alleys, institutions of higher learning, swimming pools, amusement areas, municipal piers and jobs for our youth, the list just goes on.

When I think of the positives I can’t help but think of our magnificent boardwalk. Maybe the reason I have such an affinity for the boardwalk is because like so many of my neighbors, I have spent so much quality time in my life on it.

I view it as a wonderful, utilitarian, organic, work of art. I am strongly opposed to replacing it with concrete slabs for many reasons. I believe the residents of this city have enough con- crete steel and asphalt in their lives. The boardwalk offers a much needed respite from these elements. If you go to places where the oceanfront promenades are made of concrete, like Midland Beach in Staten Island, you will witness the waves of heat rising from the walkway. Wood is cool, concrete is hot.

I do not believe the concrete slabs would be more economical. Concrete lain horizontally over time, with the impacts of sun and rain that freezes, causes concrete to get pitted, to become porous and ultimately crumble. This is the reason we cover our concrete roadbeds with asphalt.

The cost of replacing the concrete slabs would be extremely expensive.

If properly maintained the wood boardwalk would last much longer. An element of maintenance should be to remove the sand under the boardwalk so that rain could fall through.

Having the boards lying in the wet sand, as is the current situation, facilitates the dry rotting of the boards. Stopping the unnecessary vehicle traffic would keep the boards from becoming dislodged.

Twenty years ago, when the boards, which were then 20 to 30 years old, were being replaced, I salvaged the old boards. I used them on the deck of my bungalow in Broad Channel. Those boards are just now being replaced. I believe a properly installed and maintained boardwalk using hardwood boards and stainless steel screws, would last close to half a century.

New York City is one of the cultural and economic centers of the world. Must everything done in the outer boroughs be on the cheap? Can’t we have anything nice?

I recently read a statistic put forward by our illustrious mayor that using concrete would save 390 square miles of rainforest every twenty years. I thought of something Mark Twain once wrote: “there are three types of lies. There are lies, there are damn lies and then there are statistics.” I believe that statistic is absurd. I understand that most of the rainforests are being destroyed to facilitate farming and that the harvested wood is being used for things like plywood for private consumption. I believe harvesting a limited number of hardwoods from the tropics for the public good, historically has had minimal, if any, impact on the rainforest.

As the poet once said: “When the sun beats down and melts the tar upon the roof, and the street gets so hot you wish you’re tired feet were fireproof, under the board walk, down by the sea, on a blanket with my baby that’s where I’ll be.” It should be a proper boardwalk made of wood.

KEVIN CALLAGHAN

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