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Sidewalks cost $100 per square foot

"It is an oxymoron," Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner, conceded in an interview last year when the pilot project was being considered. "But boardwalk has become eponymous, in the way Kleenex is for paper tissue. It is a generic term for an elevated oceanfront walkway, and other communities use concrete."

About three weeks ago, the community board voted 21 to 7 against the latest compromise: running a 12-foot-wide concrete lane down the middle of the 50-foot-wide boardwalk to accommodate the wear and tear of garbage trucks and police cars. The remaining sides would be built out of planks made of recycled plastic that cost about $110 a square foot and last for years.

He also remembered that the Coney Island Boardwalk -- officially known as the Riegelmann Boardwalk for the borough president who built it as a way of offering the public greater access to the beach -- withstood storms like Hurricane Donna in 1960 relatively unscathed, while a concrete esplanade in nearby Manhattan Beach was mangled.

But concrete had its advocates, like Mila Ivanova. Ms. Ivanova, a Ukrainian immigrant to Brooklyn from Odessa on the Black Sea who also walks the Boardwalk every day, said: "It's very good -- wood -- but it's old. It is shaking. Sometimes nails come up and you fall. Personally, I like everything new."

A Fight Over Keeping Boards in the Boardwalk
Published: July 1, 2011
The city's efforts to stop using endangered tropical hardwoods as it replaces the Coney Island Boardwalk's planks raise aesthetic, pragmatic and linguistic issues.


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