Locals are glad their promenade will finally get the prominence it deserves.
The city plans to renovate the Hurricane Sandy-ravaged promenade in Manhattan Beach Park next fall and make it more resilient against future storms by installing new benches and trees, and repairing its cracked and trip-prone pavement. The park promenade — which encompasses the beach on Oriental Boulevard between Ocean Avenue and Mackenzie Street — has been neglected for decades, so it’s about time the Parks Department gives it some major upgrades, said the parks committee chairman for Community Board 15.
“After Sandy, a lot of damage was made to the parks. Sandy probably made it even worse, accelerated the speed of the erosion, and it became worse than it was,” said Al Smaldone. “It’s a park that is very, very heavily traveled — used by families barbecuing, and the beach, basketball courts. There’s a lot of stuff for children and it’s really been neglected for many, many years.”
The Parks Department will bring new life to the park by planting six different species of wind- and salt-tolerant trees all along the seaside promenade to replace those that have died or fallen, which will finally bring some shade back to the area — a necessity during the scorching summer months, said Smaldone.
“You have every tree that’s dead over there, no shade over there,” he said.
And the much-needed renovations will also help resolve drainage problems, replace the hazardous pavement with a smoother and crack-free walkway, and improve handicapped access to the beach. The makeover includes steel-reinforced pavement and steps, and new railings installed every 100 feet, according to information from the Parks Department, which will help those with disabilities get down to the sandy shore, said Smaldone.
“They’re putting railings every 100 feet, which will help make it more accessible for people with disabilities, to get down to the beach with strollers if they want to get to the shoreline,” he said.
But there’s currently just one handicapped accessible ramp near the Kingsborough Community College-side end of the promenade, and unfortunately, Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Manhattan Beach) and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s (D–Manhattan) combined $2 million for the project doesn’t provide enough to install more in this phase of upgrades. But it’s on the top of the list next, because everyone should have easy access to the water, said Smaldone.
“We have the accessibility with the ramp there. We want to try to get more as the project progresses, when we get more funding, where you don’t have to go to the extreme end of the beach to get to the water,” he said. “We want to try to have it in the center of the beach. This is a very important point for us. We want to have it accessible for everyone.”
The park attracts thousands of families each year, so there’s still a lot of much-needed work beyond the scope of this project, but it’s a step in the right direction, said Smaldone.
“Not only the community, it entertains guests from across the borough and beyond. It’s used very, very heavily. I think this is a good start. There’s a lot of other things we’d like to see done, and we are hoping we can get the local politicians in the area to come up with additional funds in the budget,” he said. “It’s going to turn out nice — just have to start with a beach promenade that is walkable. I think we have a long way to go, but it’s a start.”
The Parks Department plans to break ground in fall 2018, and expects to finish up within one year, a department spokeswoman said.