Would Wood Be Better
When I think of Rockaway I think of many of the burdens placed on my community. I think of the preponderance of elderly, in-firmed 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, which was taken from us in Hurricane Sandy. 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.
It was 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 concrete steal 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 more expensive than replacing wood boards.
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.
Thirty years ago when the boards, which were then sixty years old, were being replaced, my partner salvaged the boards. I used them on the deck of my bungalow in Broad Channel. I am walking on those boards today. Can you imagine what a 90 year old piece of concrete would look like?
Wood has proven itself tried and true in this application. That is why we and other communities have been using it for the last 100 years. When a hurricane lifts a boardwalk that has not been secured to its foundation and the boardwalk floats away you don't blame the boardwalk. You blame the instillation.
The original boardwalk was not made of exotic wood from the tropics but from Douglas fir. If you Google Douglass fir it is available from many vendors.
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?
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.