A cement boardwalk might be the cold, hard truth for Brighton Beachers.
Contractors for the Parks Department started preparing for the demolition of the Brighton Beach boardwalk last week, without alerting the residents or elected officials who are opposed to the construction.
The department said the new cement and plastic walkway will be finished by the summer of 2016 — but wooden-boardwalk advocates say they are going to continue fighting to preserve their iconic boards.
“They can say their intention is to start but we’ll do everything in our power to stop it,” said Rob Burstein, the president of the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance, who is one of several advocates suing to stop the construction.
The Parks Department said its contractors, Beaver Concrete Construction, began construction on Nov. 11. It said there is a trailer on site and workers are installing a construction fence to prepare for the boardwalk’s demolition.
Parks spokeswoman Maeri Ferguson dismissed claims that the department did not notify elected officials or residents. She did not directly answer questions about the lawsuit against the city, but instead said a court already decided the department did not need to do a study before beginning a project that locals say will put them danger during the next superstorm.
“Discussions were held with elected officials, and notifications were sent to community stakeholders in advance of the construction start,” said Ferguson. “The court agreed with us that an environmental review for the Boardwalk project was not necessary.”
But Burstein said the Parks Department has repeatedly ignored pleas from several elected officials — including councilmen Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay) and Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island) and Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowtiz (D–Sheepshead Bay) — who have voiced their opposition to a cement boardwalk. Burstein said a meeting was scheduled with the Parks commissioner for September so residents could voice their concerns about the dangers of a cement boardwalk but it was cancelled days before the event and never rescheduled.
“The Parks Department has shown repeatedly they don’t really care what the community says — or have any concern for their safety,” he said. “Before that happens, every effort is currently being made through our political representatives to stop this project before it is underway.”
Burstein said he hopes his lawsuit will eventually halt the work before the complete demolition of the wooden walkway.
“This is a day-to-day situation,” he said. “We’ll see what happens — it is not over ’til it is over, as they say. We remain hopeful.”
The Brighton Beach boardwalk is actually part of Coney Island’s famed Riegelmann Boardwalk, which runs continuously for 2.5 miles from the Coney Island-Seaview border to Brighton 14th Street.