Replacing the Coney Island (Riegelmann) Boardwalk with concrete, although the favored material, is not a done deal, according to the new Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey. To prove that point, he sent one of his engineers to a November 16 meeting held at the Aquarium sponsored by Rainforest Relief to learn about two viable alternatives to concrete: Recycled Plastic Lumber also known as Polywood, and Kebony, a process created in Norway where the properties of sustainable wood are enhanced.

No elected officials or Parks brass attended the meeting.

Although the city tested one form of plastic wood at Steeplechase Pier, which it claimed became uncomfortably hot and slippery when wet, neither material presented at the meeting was tested. Another point mentioned at the meeting not previously publicized was that there is a danger of the concrete substructure shifting over time. Recycled Plastic Lumber was favored as the best material for the substructure and either plastic lumber or Kebony treated wood for the surface. Southern yellow pine and sugar maple, both domestically grown in managed areas were the favored woods. Needless to say, Rainforest Relief was against the use of any tropical hardwood, which is the current composition of the boardwalk.

The wood in use now was guaranteed for twenty years with some sections lasting as few as twelve years. Residents blamed that on the numerous heavy vehicles that use the boardwalk daily and the mounting of sand under the boardwalk, further weakening it. The makers of Recycled Plastic Lumber claim it can last as long as fifty years and is very strong, being used in railroad bridges with a reinforced substructure.

The first hour and 15 minutes of the meeting was devoted to a presentation of how we are destroying the little tropical rainforests we have left. Since Mayor Bloomberg already stated in 2008 that the city will not use tropical hardwoods anymore, there is little danger of that happening.  We can only hope that the city keeps its options open before condemning us to a lifetime of concrete. Now if concrete were only an endangered species…

The above report was submitted by Allan Rosen, a Manhattan Beach resident and former Director of MTA/NYC Transit Bus Planning (1981). For a complete list of his contributions to Sheepshead Bites, which includes many articles about the bus cuts, MTA and DOT, click here.

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