Coney Island Boardwalk to Ditch Wood for Plastic and Concrete

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If a plan approved on Monday by the New York City's Design commission goes forward, the famed Coney Island boardwalk will get a makeover that will leave it near unrecognizable. There's no doubt that the crumbling wood needs to be replaced, but few are happy with the new option: a mix of plastic and concrete.

The plan is to redesign five blocks worth of the boardwalk to have a 12' wide concrete pathway, with a 19' wide path of plastic planks on either side for pedestrians, reports the New York Post. If the pilot goes well, the design could be extended to the rest of the 2.7 mile walkway.

The Debate

But the plan is not without is detractors. The group Friends of the Boardwalk is against the concrete-plastic replacement. Its slogan, "Boardwalk not sidewalk," cuts to the heart of the matter: if the wood is removed and concrete takes its place, the boardwalk will lose all its character. It won't be a boardwalk anymore.

The City, once the country's number one purchaser of rainforest wood, ditched lumber from tropical tree species in 2008, and says that finding a sustainable replacement source is too difficult. Opponents say it needs to look harder, reports the Post, and argue that using cement will lead to maintenance difficulties.

In 2010, we covered an effort to provide new wood for the Brooklyn Bridge by dedicating a section of rainforest in Guyana to be sustainably harvested for that purpose. Since then, the proposal is still alive, but doesn't seem to have gone very far. That idea has also stirred its share of controversy, but if you're set on wood, options like FSC-certification and sustainable practices are actually pretty good.

Tags: Deforestation | Forestry | New York City

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