On Monday, a city design commission approved the parks department’s plan to replace five blocks of the Coney-Brighton boardwalk with recycled plastic lumber and a 12-foot concrete strip running down the middle. There were caveats: “they asked the city to consider moving the concrete traffic lane to the land side of the Boardwalk,” Christianna Nelson, chairwoman of the Coney-Bright Boardwalk Alliance, explains, “and they told the city to test domestic hardwoods in the future on the Boardwalk.” Still, it was a setback for activists, who’ve been fighting to keep the boardwalk made of wooden boards. “We were extremely disappointed both by the vote,” Nelson tells us, “and by the unilateral limitations that were placed on us during the hearing.”
We worked hard to gather research, expert reports, and letters from community groups and politicians, but we were not allowed adequate time to present our case, and this was the only forum in which to do so. One of our wood experts traveled from West Virginia to attend the hearing, and was only allowed two minutes (like the rest of us), to present his wealth of knowledge and information.
The parks department showed that they are not at all interested in actually considering any viable alternatives for the Boardwalk. They came in with a predetermined solution, and then molded the problems to fit. Piece by piece, pilot project after pilot project, they are destroying the Boardwalk. How many of these failed pilot projects will they be allowed to complete before the Boardwalk as we know it is gone forever?
You can read Nelson’s description of the hearing here. As for what’s next? “We are currently considering our options, but have not yet determined what our next step will be.”