The Parachute Jump is a unique structure that deserves the landmark status it was granted in 1988. However, when funds are in short supply, they should be used to address the most pressing needs first. Rather than spending an additional $2 million, beyond the 1.4 million already spent, on making the lighting on the Parachute Jump brighter — a superficial concern — these funds should be spent addressing Coney Island’s most important and immediate need: preserving its iconic, world-famous wooden Boardwalk.
The Parks Department insists that in order to fix the Boardwalk, they first must destroy it. They claim that a concrete walk is, in fact, still a boardwalk. By this standard, New Yorkers are blessed with thousands of “boardwalks,” including Park, Madison, and Fifth Avenues. There are simple solutions that the Parks Department refuses to consider: minimizing the use of heavy vehicles on the boardwalk; using non-rainforest, sustainable woods that are both structurally and financially viable; and performing basic maintenance. Our politicians too are to blame for this sad state of affairs. While mouthing tepid platitudes of support for maintaining the character of the Boardwalk, they have done little, for many years, to commit some of their funds to an appropriate and reasonable maintenance budget that would keep the Boardwalk in good repair. Imagine the uproar, if the City said Central Park needed to be paved over with concrete, because its maintenance required funding.
The cost differential between concrete and wood decreases significantly over time. The two concrete sections, installed less than two years ago, have already required significant repairs. Concrete is much harder to walk, run, or dance on — all activities enjoyed by various groups here. It’s also not as safe, and is prone to icing over in the winter, and flooding in the summer.
The wishes of the people in our community and throughout our city are clear and need to be respected. Thousands have signed both paper and online petitions stating that they value and want a true wood Coney Island Boardwalk to be maintained.
This unique and historic aesthetic entity, which visitors and locals alike interact with in intimate and meaningful ways on a daily basis, forms the spine of our communities and acts as the anchor for all of the businesses on or near it. Rather than spending limited funds on what amounts to a cosmetic facial for the Parachute Jump, those funds should be used to preserve New York City’s most unique respite from concrete — its jewel, the authentic Coney Island Boardwalk!
Rob Burstein is the president of the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance. Click here to sign his petition entitled, “New York City Parks Department: Keep the Boards in the Coney Island Boardwalk and Save the Rainforests.”