As the city fights with Coney Island and Brighton Beach’s residents and admirers to install a concrete median on the iconically wooden boardwalk, the small bit of concrete boardwalk it has already installed has begun to fall apart. Sheepshead Bites reports that, after one winter, the 300-foot strip of concrete boardwalk in Brighton Beach, from Ocean Parkway to Bright 1st Road, is showing hairline cracks. The city has argued that concrete is tougher than wood or faux-wood (“recycled plastic lumber”), the options advocated by traditionalists and many locals. (There are at least three groups dedicated to saving the boardwalk.) Concrete, the city has said, requires “virtually no maintenance” and is also much cheaper to install—$24 less a square foot.
But the city’s arguments about sturdiness have begun to crack. Allan Rosen writes:
Concrete apparently is not as durable as the city claimed it would be because the hairline cracks will only get worse with age and eventually will have to patched—unless, of course, the city wants to be faced with huge lawsuits, since falls on concrete are much more severe than falls on wood. Concrete is also criticized because it is more difficult to walk or run on than wood and that it is hotter than wood to walk on with bare feet.
He points out that recycled plastic lumber has its flaws—it’s way too slippery—and that real wood is environmentally destructively harvested from rainforests. But he worries that the city won’t genuinely try to find a way to make that material effective: that it’ll stack the deck in favor of concrete, turning one of the area’s last attractions into nothing but a sidewalk.