The New York City Parks Department began installing temporary bathrooms on the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Brighton Beach this week after construction snafus and community opposition plagued a plan for a permanent comfort station by the Oceana condominium complex. But the city says it’s still going through with its long-term plan to place the elevated bathrooms in “New Brighton,” meaning the installation is hardly a victory despite the claims of local leaders.
The $2 million pod-like bathrooms, elevated to heights recommended by FEMA to withstand future flood conditions, first began appearing on the boardwalk in May. A planned potty in front of the Oceana luxury condominium complex (50 Oceana Drive West) brought outrage from residents who said the bathrooms would block their million-dollar views and attract homeless people and rowdy teenagers. The Parks Department shrugged off the complaints, despite opposition from pols including Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and District Leader Ari Kagan, the latter a candidate for City Council.
As the project moved forward, construction crews struck upon bedrock while driving support pilings into the ground, forcing them to alter plans. Opponents also filed a lawsuit that heads to court later this month.
Parks then announced they would install temporary bathrooms on the boardwalk at Coney Island Avenue in order to provide service to the community. The stations were delivered Monday night.
News of the temporary stations was met with cries of victory from the elected officials who sided with Oceana residents.
“I’m pleased that the Parks Department listened to residents who wanted the comfort stations moved elsewhere. This is a victory for the community, but more important, beachgoers will finally have comfort stations in a busy and accessible location,” Cymbrowitz said in a press release touting the achievement.
Likewise, in a release about improving lighting and safety conditions on the Brighton Beach end of the boardwalk, Kagan claimed victory over the “new” location.
“We are happy the city has listened to the community with regards to the bathroom,” Kagan said.
Cymbrowitz added that the temporary location was a “win-win” for all involved, saying that Parks was responsive to a letter he wrote the mayor asking that the temporary location be moved away from Oceana.
Parks, though, told Sheepshead Bites that the long-term plan is still the same: to place permanent structures at “New Brighton” – the location of the Oceana complex. Moreover, a spokesperson added, the decision to place temporary structures near Coney Island Avenue had little to do with local opposition: it was simply the most logical place to put them while construction was underway on the permanent location.
“Due to the ongoing construction to prepare for the permanent bathroom facility at the New Brighton site, Parks selected Coney Island Avenue as a logical alternative site for the temporary facilities until the New Brighton site is complete,” said Parks spokesperson Meghan Lalor.
The modular pod unit is currently at a staging site on Brighton 15th Street, where it will remain until it’s ready to be installed at the permanent site at New Brighton.