Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday threw his support behind the effort to landmark the Riegelmann Boardwalk, drawing cheers from the crowd at a town hall meeting at the Coney Island YMCA.
“I have asked the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to determine the best way to create a landmark status for the Coney Island boardwalk,” de Blasio said, while adding that he is directing his administration to use additional measures to preserve the boardwalk “for the long haul” and protect the overall community from future storms.
Councilmembers Mark Treyger and Chaim Deutsch have long pushed for the landmark designation; it has been several years since they introduced a change.org petition directed to the LPC. Last year, Treyger landed support from many of his fellow council members when he introduced a resolution to encourage the LPC to designate the boardwalk. If designated, the boardwalk would be saved from major alterations.
Treyger, who was standing next to the mayor during the endorsement on Thursday, was enouraged with the latest developments.
“This is a great win for our community and our city’s history, thanks to tenacious grassroots advocacy by residents of Coney Island and Brighton Beach,” he said to Coney Island News.
Orlando Mendez, a resident of Coney Island, was thrilled by the news — even if he didn’t see it coming. “I was pleasantly surprised by the mayor’s announcement,” he said. “It was totally unexpected on my part.”
Brooklyn borough president Eric L. Adams supported the mayor’s endorsement in a tweet on Friday morning.
— Eric Adams (@BPEricAdams) August 25, 2017
But enough concern will nonetheless linger over the boardwalk’s ability to withstand strong storms. The Rockaway boardwalk had to undergo a complete renovation after Hurricane Sandy and just re-opened in its entirety earlier this year with a concrete platform. Additionally, the boardwalk in Coney Island is plagued with loose and exposed boards, making it a tripping hazard even in its current state.
Mendez noted that the heavy vehicles from the Parks Department and the NYPD have caused damage to the boardwalk.
“If the Wooden Coney Island Riegelmann Boardwalk is to be saved and preserved, these practices must be stopped,” he said. “People walking on the boardwalk can’t crack and damage the wood or pop up screws and nails.”
Furthermore, Mendez said that damage on the boardwalk also stems from the filling of sand under the boards because rainfall causes the sand to remain moist.
“There is no ventilation in between, and the sand abuts the wood and causes it to rot,” he said. “It was an engineering fiasco which heavily contributes to the boardwalk’s condition.”
Treyger indicated that the landmarking process could help the community and the LPC find answers to the question of how to preserve the vulnerable boardwalk.
“This is also an opportunity to enhance our coastal resiliency while preserving the essential, historic character of the People’s Playground,” he said. “I look forward to working with the Mayor, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Council Member Chaim Deutsch, and local advocates to ensure that the Riegelmann Boardwalk is preserved and protected for the enjoyment of future generations.”