2013-10-18 / Columnists

Boyleing Points

Boardwalk Nightmare
By Kevin Boyle

I get asked why I moved to Rockaway and the answer is because of the parking. On the west end, there are parking restrictions but even with restrictions it’s not like trying to park in Bay Ridge or Park Slope, where it’s hand to hand combat. The other lure came via eternal optimist Kevin Lunny. He said Rockaway was a good place to move to because it was only “deteriorating slowly.”

Decent parking and slow deterioration what more could you want? Oh, and that ocean thing? Yeah, that was cool, too.

Fast forward a couple of decades. Parking got tougher. But the decline, the slow deterioration, had stopped. Lo and behold, there were signs everywhere that Rockaway was on an upswing. That was more than I hoped when I made the move here.

But then that Sandy thing happened. Which I keep telling myself is the best thing that could have happened to this place. And though I keep telling myself this I can’t stop the dreams that scare the hell out of me.

What if New York suddenly finds itself with a combination of Abe Beame and John Lindsey as mayor? All of a sudden Sandy money gets used to stop New York from defaulting.

And I fast forward again. It’s the year 2019 and budget cuts and massive corruption inspire the sequel to Escape From New York. The boardwalk concrete stanchions continue to sit there waiting, looking like broken, spread out piano keys.

The Parks Department says we can’t find the money for a boardwalk but we can paint them green. The mayor says they’re great, they’re like Easter Island or Stonehenge. Tourists will come and wonder what they are. And he’s right.

It’s 2025 and now the only visitors are urban explorers. The ocean creeps so close, someone points to the stanchions and asks, are those the jetties people used to talk about?

They see the lifeguard and comfort stations in the sky, rusted so much people assume they’re abandoned barges. They’ve been stripped of pipes and any materials worth a dime. Ivy and green vines sprout through some of the window holes.

How’d they get up there, some visitors wonder. They’re like the ancient pyramids to some, a mystery.

Some old timer passes by, wearing flip flops and short pants, and the small crowd of urban explorers seek him out like a shaman. They’ve heard about guys like this. They wore shorts and used to travel on something called a boardwalk. He nods his head at the lifeguard stations. They got there with money, he says. They cost four million dollars apiece.

He might as well have said they were alien spaceships because the small crowd snickers and drifts away. One of the explorers says, “Four million dollars? That guy’s crazy.”

It’s then 2026, twelve years after the City announced that construction of the new boardwalk would begin. But the stanchions are now like the Neponsit Home or the courthouse. They’re neglected relics. So what happened? People will ask. Well, a new administration took over. The new guys? They had other ideas. And even the old guys, they never said when it would be completed. So this is what you get.

But when I awake I realize there’s a more likely scenario. John Edwards will form a local chapter of the Gray Panthers and recruit old-timers who won’t stand for a Rockaway without a boardwalk. They’ll drag plywood to the stanchions and connect them one by one, if they have to. Joe Hartigan will put Hesco barriers underneath. We’ll end up with a Mad Max boardwalk but that’ll be better than nothing. They just have to remember to strap it down.

Point is, we demand a completion date from the current crew in power.

Boyleing Points: I told Liam Kavanagh that I kinda liked being displaced for a couple of months. And that Brooklyn living was good for the winter months. Oh, that’s something new, he said, Brooklyn snowbirds.

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