Archive for the tag 'riegelmann boardwalk'

By Lon Luchnick

By Lon Luchnick

Earlier this month, we reported that Council members Mark Treyger and Chaim Deutsch moved to make the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk a scenic landmark - a last ditch effort to save it from a city project to replace the boardwalk’s wooden planks with cement, that began in November. Now the councilman is turning to the public for help.

Treyger and Deutsch launched a petition on Change.org Friday, calling on the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) to designate the boardwalk as an official scenic landmark. Constituents can sign the petition, which will be submitted to the mayor’s office and the LPC, online or at their district offices.

In a letter to the LPC, Treyger argued that “the historical significance of Riegelmann Boardwalk is undeniable.”

Since its opening in 1923, millions of tourists from around the world have flocked to this Southern Brooklyn attraction, resulting in cherished memories for generations of New Yorkers and visitors, Treyger wrote. He noted that “any alteration to the style and composition of the boardwalk would irreparably damage its character and diminish its historic value.” While recognizing the importance of Brooklyn’s existing scenic landmarks, he argues that “the Coney Island boardwalk is equally iconic and historically significant.”

By Lon Luchnick

By Lon Luchnick

Construction of the boardwalk began in 1921, one year after the BMT subway line was extended to the area and began resulting in incredibly large crowds on hot days. Adding to the overcrowding was the fact that private businesses kept large portions of the sand off limits to the public. In response, Brooklyn Borough President Edward Riegelmann spearheaded the $3 million project to construct the boardwalk and improve public access to the beach.

According to NYC Parks, the immense engineering project required 1.7 million cubic yards of sand to create an additional 2.5 million square feet of beach area, along with 3.6 million feet of timber. The 80-foot wide boardwalk rose 14 feet above the beach, stretching from West 37th Street to Ocean Parkway and was dubbed “Coney Island’s Fifth Avenue” upon its opening on May 15, 1923.

“There is no question that the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk is one of the most iconic and beloved structures in our entire city and clearly merits this designation,” said Councilman Treyger in a statement. “I have already heard from dozens of New Yorkers who are shocked this isn’t already the case and wanted to share their personal stories of what the boardwalk means to them and their families. This is an important piece of New York City history and we must act now before it is drastically changed and lost forever. I am asking anyone who has ever visited the Riegelmann Boardwalk or cares about preserving our history to join our effort.”

By Lon Luchnick

By Lon Luchnick

Councilman Deutsch echoed that sentiment.

“The Coney Island Boardwalk is a Brooklyn icon that possesses significant value, attracting visitors since 1923. In an effort to prevent any compromise of the historic design, I urge the Landmark Preservation Commission to grant landmark status to the boardwalk,” he said.

The motion to preserve the boardwalk has the support of Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo and Councilman Alan Maisel, as well as numerous activists and preservationists.

Currently, there are a total of nine scenic landmarks in New York City, including three in Brooklyn: Prospect Park, Eastern Parkway, and Ocean Parkway.

To sign the online petition, simply click here or stop by Treyger’s district offices at 2015 Stillwell Avenue and 445 Neptune Avenue, or Councilman Deutsch’s office at 2401 Avenue U. Please call (718) 307-7151 for details.

Photos, sent to us by reader Lon Luchnick, capture the final days of the wooden boardwalk.

800px-Coney_Island_Boardwalk-2

Can our beloved boardwalk be saved?

Councilman Mark Treyger asked the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to make Coney Island’s Riegelmann Boardwalk an official “scenic landmark” yesterday, an effort to block the city from replacing its planks with concrete and plastic, reports the New York Daily News.

“This is a globally recognized iconic structure that draws millions of visitors each year,”  Treyger told us. “Many New Yorkers recall stories from their childhood when their families took them to the boardwalk. We strongly believe that the boardwalk is worthy of being designated a city landmark, and is worthy of the same designated services every other piece of our local infrastructure has.”

As we previously reported, the city began construction to replace the boardwalk this month, despite fierce protests from residents, politicians, and activists, who say the concrete will ruin the walkway’s historic character and who question the environmental impact of the project. Shortly after Superstorm Sandy, activists filed a lawsuit demanding a full environmental review of the boardwalk project before construction commenced, pointing out that concrete has not necessarily proven to be more resilient against extreme weather, but a judge ruled against them.

Now the boardwalk’s fate is in the hands of the LPC. The landmark approval process is notoriously sluggish, and it will likely take at least a year for the boardwalk to reach the panel, but Treyger believes the move will put increased pressure on the Parks Department to halt the project.

“Money has been allocated [by local politicians] to make changes to the boardwalk instead of replacing it. This is very much counter to what the community desires,” Treyger said.

The boardwalk’s tropical wood planks have been around since the 1920s. If approved by the LPC, the boardwalk would become Brooklyn’s fourth scenic landmark. Currently, only Prospect Park, Eastern Parkway, and Ocean Parkway are protected scenic sites.

Photo by Ned Berke

Photo by Ned Berke

by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz

Back in 2008, my Assembly colleague, Alec Brook-Krasny, and I were able to secure $10 million in capital funding for the repair of the Riegelmann Boardwalk. The purpose of this money was to give the Boardwalk the rehabilitation it deserves and ensure that generations of New Yorkers will have the opportunity to enjoy this iconic wooden structure.

One thing this money was not supposed to do was destroy the Boardwalk as we know it. That’s why I’m outraged by the city’s decision to rebuild the Boardwalk out of concrete and plastic, effectively turning our Boardwalk into a sidewalk. To repurpose the money and change the scope of the project is an underhanded misuse of funds by this administration, and it’s something I won’t tolerate.

Since the start of this new Mayoral administration I have attempted to open a dialogue and stress the need to rebuild the Boardwalk out of wood. Unfortunately, the city has chosen instead to fast-track the destruction of our iconic landmark and has been unwilling to listen to the people of our communities. We’re the ones who have a vested interest in the Boardwalk. We’re the people who know how badly the concrete sections were damaged during Sandy. Clearly this is not a material that promises flood resiliency.

The contract for the funds I allocated is set to expire on December 31, 2014. The city is hoping to extend this contract but I have other ideas. I am committed to doing everything in my power to block the extension of the contract and rescind the money that was allocated.

Thank you for your letters, emails, tweets and calls. My confidence is strengthened with the knowledge that I have the support of my community and activists like you.

Please remember that I’m here to help you with any issue or problem and I’d like to hear your thoughts and ideas. My district office is located at 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road and we’re open Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Fridays until 5 p.m. Feel free to call me at (718) 743-4078 or email cymbros@assembly.state.ny.us.

Steven Cymbrowitz is the 45th District’s representative to the State Assembly, representing the Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach and Gravesend.

The Parks Department says it can avoid routine maintenance by replacing wooden planks that warp over time, seen above, with concrete and plastic. (Photo by Ned Berke)

A site trailer and construction fence were installed at Brighton 15th Street this month – a first step in a controversial plan to replace the Riegelmann Boardwalk’s iconic wooden planks between Brighton 15th Street and Coney Island Avenue with cement and plastic. But several elected officials are expressing outrage about the work, and at least one is threatening to cut off funding to the project.

Construction on the Coney Island Boardwalk officially began on November 11, the Parks Department confirmed, despite fierce objection from community members, advocates, and local politicians who disagree with the plan to replace the boardwalk with artificial materials.

“I remain very disappointed that the Parks Department is moving forward with this major change to the boardwalk without completing any safety studies to determine the impact it will have on the community,” said City Councilman Mark Treyger. “The Parks Department is also ignoring the will of the local state lawmakers who allocated this funding for repairs, and not for a new concrete road down the middle of the iconic boardwalk.”

The state lawmakers in question are Assembly members Alec Brook-Krasny and Steven Cymbrowitz, who together allocated $10 million to the Parks Department in 2009 for general repairs and improvements to the 2.5-mile span. The funding can be cut off at the lawmakers’ discretion – but only before the contracts are signed. That time has passed, but Cymbrowitz said he’s still going to find a way to close the funding spigot.

“I am outraged that Mayor [Bill] De Blasio and Commissioner [Mitchell] Silver have fast-tracked the destruction of an iconic landmark in southern Brooklyn. As I wrote to Mayor de Blasio, concrete and composite plastics are a poor approximation for a boardwalk. It’s a boardwalk, not a sidewalk. There are also significant safety concerns with this project since no impact study has been done,” said Cymbrowitz in a statement. “This is an underhanded misuse of the money and the mayor knows it. I will work to make sure that the millions of dollars I allocated are cut off. I fought hard for the boardwalk to be repaired, not to fund the elimination of the boardwalk as this community and all New Yorkers know it.”

He’s backed up by both Treyger and Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who say that the funders’ intentions should be considered in how their money is spent.

“The money came from Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, and whoever gave the money for the boardwalk should have a voice in it,” Deutsch told this outlet.

Even though Coney Island’s boardwalk survived Superstorm Sandy relatively unscathed compared to the Rockaways’ concrete walk, Mayor Michael Bloomberg deemed all wooden boardwalks insufficient to withstand the ocean’s surges, and commissioned them to be replaced with concrete. That was the plan anyway, following a 2008 directive from Bloomberg’s office that city agencies would stop using tropical hardwoods – the type used to construct the boardwalk – for environmental reasons. The de Blasio administration has continued to press forward with those policies.

“Using tropical hardwoods could contribute to the climate change that helped destroy the boardwalk in the first place and it would be more expensive,” said a spokesperson for the Parks Department. Critics point out that there are other options, including sustainable domestic hardwoods such as Black Locust or White Oak, that can be used.

But the lower cost of maintaining concrete, long a part of the Parks Department’s justification for switching to cement, does not necessarily mean it will hold up better during storms, said Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who represents the Brighton Beach portion of the Riegelmann Boardwalk. He, Treyger and Cymbrowitz want an impact study that considers the performance of concrete in storm surges. Other areas, including Manhattan Beach and the Rockaways, saw huge concrete chunks barrel through the streets as they broke up during the October 2012 storm.

“[This is] about what is safer with the community in case another storm comes in,” he said. “It has to be safe, not just more resilient in terms of repairs, but what’s safe in regards to any kind of surge.”

Even before the storm, advocacy groups filed a lawsuit hoping to stop the plan, demanding a full environmental review. But just weeks after Superstorm Sandy, a judge ruled that the project did not need to undergo such a study since it would not constitute a signficant change the existing structure.

The boardwalk construction is expected to be completed in time for the 2016 beach season, according to the Parks Department. Elected officials are asking the city to terminate all construction until the concerns of residents are addressed.

Here is a map of the proposed plan via the Coney Island Boardwalk Alliance:

boardwalk-map

Click to enlarge

– With additional reporting by Ned Berke.

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

A Russian-language radio ad promoting the Republican campaign of Ben Akselrod claims credit for a project currently funded by his opponent, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, Sheepshead Bites has learned.

The commercial was heard airing on Davidzon Radio last week. It appears to be a paid announcement in which a supporter listed the candidate’s accomplishments, including among them that “Paths in the sand to the sea are also his work.”

Hear the ad below:

The ad, translated by three independent sources for Sheepshead Bites, appears to be highlighting Mobi-Mats, special mats on Brighton Beach and Coney Island beach that extend from the boardwalk to the water’s edge. They allow those in wheelchairs, or who suffer from other disabilities that make walking on sand difficult, to access the waterfront and are popular with the area’s senior community.

Example of a Mobi-Mat (Source: assistivetech.net)

Example of a Mobi-Mat (Source: assistivetech.net)

However, there appears to be no record of Akselrod working to obtain Mobi-Mats. The first set of them appeared in 2007, five years before he ever ran for office. Three new mats – two in Coney Island and one at Brighton 6th Street – were added this summer. At the time of the announcement of the expansion, Council members Mark Treyger and Chaim Deutsch claimed credit for their placement.

While Treyger and Deutsch prodded the city for additional placements this summer, the only local elected officials to steer actual funding for the mats are Assembly members Alec Brook-Krasny and Steven Cymbrowitz – the latter of which Akselrod hopes to unseat in tomorrow’s election.

The mats that served the disabled this summer were paid for with mayoral funding, the Parks Department confirmed. A further expansion is planned with funding from Cymbrowitz and Brook-Krasny in response to the community’s need for more accessibility, said a Parks spokesperson. Those funds were part of a $10 million allocation in 2009 for repairs and general improvements of the Riegelmann Boardwalk, and the local Assembly members requested Mobi-Mats be part of the scope.

The radio announcement was made by Bella Akhmechet, a supporter of Akselrod’s who contributed to his campaign. It goes on to say that she has known the candidate for more than a decade as a “respectable and worthy person … who is not indifferent to our needs.” It touts his “distribution of humanitarian aid” after Superstorm Sandy, and notes that he is a “humble person,” urging potential voters to cast their vote for Akselrod during the campaign.

Like many campaign ads placed on Davidzon Radio, it is not explicitly labeled as an ad. However, Akselrod’s campaign paid $3,000 to Davidzon Radio on September 12 for radio advertising.

Askelrod did not return multiple requests for comment.

The candidate, a Democrat, has been actively campaigning on the Republican line following his defeat in the Democratic primary. The GOP nomination came following a write-in initiative on the Republican line that he organized as a safeguard, and he won the Republican primary with 46 votes, as first reported by Sheepshead Bites. He was recently endorsed by former Republican Congressman Bob Turner.

Although he promised to resign as president of the Bay Democrats, the local Democratic club he leads alongside 45th Assembly District Leader Ari Kagan, he has not yet done so, according to reports.

With thanks to our readers who volunteered to translate to the advertisement.

A scene from last year’s Light up the Shore event. Photo by Ned Berke

The following is a press release from the Bay Improvement Group:

Elected officials, recovery organizations, community leaders, and residents of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, will gather on Wednesday, October 29 at 7:30pm to remember the two-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated South Brooklyn, including this waterfront community.

The remembrance, part of a city-wide initiative “Light the Shore” spearheaded by the long-term recovery groups, will be held overlooking the water on the deck of the Baron de Kalb Knights of Columbus, located at 3000 Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay.

In addition to residents impacted by the disaster, elected officials Councilman Chaim Deutsch and Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz; representatives of nonprofits involved in Sheepshead Bay’s recovery, including the Bay Improvement Group (BIG), Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS), Kings Bay Y, and Resurrection Brooklyn Relief; and religious leaders will attend the event, now in its second year.

A brief memorial ceremony will be held alongside the bay, or inside, in the event of rain. Light refreshments will be offered afterwards, when residents will also have the opportunity to meet disaster assistance representatives and learn more about recovery services they are still offering.

No reservations necessary. All welcome.

Questions about the event may be addressed to Bay Improvement Group at 718-646-9206 or by emailing bayimprovementgrp@gmail.com.

Source: mikey k/flickr

Source: mikey k/flickr

A dead man was found beneath Coney Island’s Riegelmann Boardwalk on Saturday, sparking an investigation into his death.

The man, who has not been identified, is described as a Hispanic man in his 40s. He was found at approximately 6:15pm near West 25th Street.

The Daily News reports that no foul play is suspected, but an autopsy will be done by the medical examiner to determine how he died.

Source: Davidzon Radio

Source: Davidzon Radio

The following is a press release from Davidzon Radio:

Residents of southern Brooklyn demonstrated their solidarity with Israel, Sunday evening, at a rally on the Reigelman Boardwalk that stretched from Brighton 5th Street to almost Ocean Parkway. The gathering was sponsored by Ben Akselrod and Davidzon Radio, which arranged for Sofa Landver, a member of Israel’s Knesset and Minister of Repatriation and Integration, Aleksander Valdman the deputy mayor of Ashdod and Larisa Gershtein, the former vice mayor of Jerusalem to address the crowd live from Israel providing the latest information on events in the Holy Land.

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Remember parkour, the sport described by The Office‘s Jim Halpert as “the internet sensation of 2004 … and the goal is to get from point A to point B as creatively as possible”? Well, it just happened in Coney Island. And it’s much cooler than when Michael and Dwight did it.

Brooklyn-based parkour collaborative Bullettrun posted the above video over the weekend, showing their members jumping, flipping, rolling and generally being more awesome than the rest of us on the Coney Island boardwalk, Child’s Restaurant, on the beach and in front of housing developments.

The group has been around since 2007, performing their craft in streets, on the stage and on screen. Under the creative direction of Nadia Lesy, who shot the video above, Bulletrun describes itself as a “collaborative, performance, Multi-media Parkour group” that “produces live shows that are presented in theaters, galleries and in non traditional settings, such as a a high school gymnasium and city parks.”

Neat. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go parkour my way over to the deli for a bacon, egg and cheese. Strolling, slowly, while struggling to breathe under the weight of my own man-boobs counts as creative expression, doesn’t it?

Check out more awesome videos from Bullettrun.

The head of the New York City Office of Recovery and Resiliency is getting behind the Bloomberg-era plan to replace the Riegelmann Boardwalk’s wooden slats with concrete, saying that concrete fared better in Superstorm Sandy.

Recovery chief Daniel Zarrilli testified before the City Council last Thursday, telling them that the choice of concrete was a “sound” decision since it performs better in storms.

He added that the de Blasio administration will continue to replace the wooden boards with concrete going forward.

Bloomberg made the decision to replace the boardwalk with concrete after instituting a citywide ban on tropical hardwood in public projects, the material the boardwalk, as well as other fixtures like benches, have historically been made of. It has been fought for several years by locals who want to see the iconic wood stay, and they even filed suit against the city in 2012. Several compromises were sought, including using alternate wood materials, plastic and a combination of all three – although the city made clear its preference for concrete.

But the announcement that the new administration will stick with the plan because it performed well in Sandy is sure to be challenged by critics. In the wake of the storm, locals said that the concrete allowed sand to pile up on the boardwalk, and also served as a less effective buffer protecting the community from the flooding. They also say the concrete accelerates erosion and is less effective at drainage during storms.

The two councilmembers whose districts overlap the boardwalk, Chaim Deutsch and Mark Treyger, both support using wood.

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