Brooklyn Broadside: Wood or Plastic, It’s Still the Boardwalk

February 23, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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By Dennis Holt
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

CONEY ISLAND — Before long there will be no “board” in the Coney Island Boardwalk, and eventually there won’t be any in other boardwalks either.

As reported, the city has finally come to a resolution on the physical composition of one of the most famous boardwalks in the world. Purists won’t like it, but they will get used to it and eventually like it.

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It all starts with wood, the original building material. Wood doesn’t wear well near salt water or under the heavy foot traffic a boardwalk attracts. Some boardwalks, like the one in Coney Island, are used by emergency vehicles, which don’t do a boardwalk any good at all.

The solution promoted by the city is to    create a concrete path for vehicles, bordered on both sides with boards made of a plastic material that looks very much like wood but lasts much longer — about 75 years. It should require no repairs like wood does.

I used to work for Congressman Stephen Solarz, whose main office was in Coney Island. I can assure you that the most heated conversations every spring, and throughout the year for that matter, were about repairing the boardwalk. The city never had enough money to do a complete job, and local elected officials and community leaders used to squabble most forcefully about what got repaired and what didn’t.

To make matters more difficult, two different community boards — Board 13 and 15 — had a say about the boardwalk, and you can imagine the infighting that took place. Every year the borough president would come down to try to make peace, and he always wound up yelling at the mayor for not doing the right thing. Some people really got their noses out of joint.

Well, if this new technology works, people’s energy could be directed elsewhere, and the city’s money can be spent on other things than fixing up wooden planks.

And no way will we call it the Coney Island Plasticwalk. Like a rose, it is still a boardwalk by any other name.

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