The Coney Island boardwalk’s planks are sourced from a Brazilian tree generally known as ipê, a heavily-durable and rot-resistant wooden whose extraction has contributed to the deforestation of the Amazon. The value of ipê has additionally elevated considerably lately.
Defenders of a hardwood boardwalk see the Parks Division’s place as financial and sensible. Coney Island Council Member Mark Treyger mentioned he has requested the de Blasio administration determine different hardwoods, both domestically or sustainably sourced from South America, however was disregarded.
“The de Blasio administration has said that no supply exists, but we found out later that was not the case,” Treyger mentioned. “I don’t think it’s contradictory to push for resiliency and the historic nature of the boardwalk.”
When the privately-funded Excessive Line stopped utilizing ipê in 2011, they switched to a different tropical wooden, a reclaimed teak from the economic buildings of southeast Asia. By comparability, the sections of the Rockaway boardwalk that had been destroyed by Superstorm Sandy had been rebuilt with recycled plastic and concrete.
In a presentation about eradicating a piece of wooden on the Brighton Seaside stretch, the Parks Division mentioned that they had evaluated the prices and life cycle of assorted home and tropical hardwoods, earlier than concluding that every had “significant drawbacks” in comparison with plastic and textured concrete.
Whereas concrete is the most cost effective and most sturdy, the recycled plastic was discovered to “present related aesthetic requirements to wooden with a a lot larger life cycle than the wooden choices,” the company famous.
Rob Burstein, a Brighton Seaside resident who has organized rallies and petitions to maintain the boardwalk wooden, disagrees. He mentioned that the recycled plastic materials is slippery when moist, laborious on the soles of runners, and turns a “sallow greyish color” over time.
“Our fight for a real wood boardwalk is something that’s not only important for aesthetics, it’s important for the way people use the boardwalk,” Burstein mentioned.
There’s additionally a prevailing sense amongst some Coney Island locals that the town’s lax oversight of the Folks’s Playground wouldn’t be tolerated at a extra prosperous vacation spot.
Residents have complained for years of dilapidated stretches of the boardwalk, with nails protruding, boards lacking, and sections wobbling — partly due to the heavy Parks Division autos that often drive over the pathway, based on Treyger. Till earlier this 12 months, the company didn’t have a full-time carpenter devoted to the boardwalk.
Whereas the brand new funding is geared toward enhancing these situations, the looming elimination of wooden has solely exacerbated the frustrations of some residents with the parks division’s stewardship.
“There’s always been the feeling out here that we’re the uncared for step child of the city,” mentioned Burstein. “Otherwise, the boardwalk would not be in this current state of disrepair to begin with.”