Worries about splinters when walking barefoot in the Rockaways might be gone by next summer under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to restore the boardwalk. But others say rebuilding the span should not be priority number one.
The mayor told the editorial board of The Wave, the Rockaway’s local weekly newspaper, that it probably won’t be rebuilt by the summer. But when the boardwalk does come back, it probably won’t have the traditional wooden planks.
“I guess this settles the issue of wooden boardwalks versus concrete boardwalks,” Bloomberg told the paper. “There will be no more wooden boardwalks in Rockaway or anywhere else. I don’t know that we can reconstruct the boardwalk before this summer, but it will be done.”
Much of the planked walkway was destroyed by the strong waves of Sandy. Despite measures to protect it, many pieces were thrown from their concrete supports and up against beachfront apartment buildings, or carried by waves and flood waters north into the streets of Rockaway.
Some locals, however, feel the boardwalk focus is not the right thing to tackle first; rather, it’s storm prevention.
John Cori with Friends of Rockaway Beach, a peninsula-wide advocacy group, said the real focus should be wave-resistant structures on the beach, such as concrete jetties upon which boardwalks can then be constructed.
“You’ve got to build a sea wall first and then build a boardwalk on top of that,” he said. “To allow the Bloomberg administration to put concrete slabs on top of the skeleton of what was the boardwalk…[won’t] prevent this from happening again.”
Cori said there were certain spots of concrete boardwalk that would perfectly accommodate wave walls and prevent further damage to homes. But before any new boardwalks should be replaced, storm prevention should be examined before anything else.
“Let’s concentrate on how strong your house is going to be before you focus on your moulding.”