Meeting Explores Sustainable Alternatives to New York City’s Proposal for a Concrete Coney Island Boardwalk

A walk down the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk in Coney Island makes it clear that beauty can be lost with age.  Planks are missing, loose nails are exposed, and for several years now people have been filing lawsuits against the city due to boardwalk-related injuries.

A year ago the city began testing concrete slabs and a synthetic plastic as potential alternatives to using wood to rebuild the boardwalk.  Ultimately this led to the announcement last month by Parks officials at a Community Board 13 meeting that they are leaning towards revamping the boardwalk with concrete.

Some community members are outraged at the prospect of cement redefining the beloved landmark, though no one seems to be denying that a reconstruction is in order.

The aging process was inevitable; the boardwalk, the surface of which is currently made up of mainly exotic woods, has been reconstructed numerous times since 1923.  That’s why the city wants a cheaper, longer-lasting alternative to using wood.

On Nov. 16, Tim Keating, the Executive Director of Rainforest Relief, led a meeting that introduced two potentially viable, synthetic alternatives to using wood or concrete.  Keating is no stranger to dealing with the city.  He and his organization have long been battling the city to halt its use of rainforest and other rare woods on the Riegelmann Boardwalk and elsewhere in the city.

Among the speakers at the meeting was Douglas Murray, President of Kebony, manufacturer of synthetically modified, sustainable woods; and Richard Lehman, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Rutgers University, who presented RPL, or “Recycled Plastic Lumber.”

John Natoli and Martin Maher, Chief Engineer and Brooklyn Chief of Staff with the New York City Department of Parks, respectively, were there to voice the city’s stance on the issue.

Take a look at the presentation below to see what went on. Click on the “+” icon for a short description of each picture:

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