The effects of Hurricane Sandy have done nothing to increase Mayor Bloomberg’s sentimentality, as he confirmed in an interview with Rockaways newspaper The Wave on Friday. “I guess this settles the issue of wooden boardwalks versus concrete boardwalks,” he said while discussing plans for rebuilding the area, which lost huge portions of its five-and-a-half-mile hardwood boardwalk during the storm. “There will be no more wooden boardwalks in Rockaway or anywhere else.” While it does sound a little charmless, concrete might be the most practical choice.
Bloomberg has been trying to replace the Coney Island and Rockaways boardwalks with sturdier materials for years, though his efforts to do so have been met with resistance by people who favor a more classic look. Still, the Parks Department did install four pieces of concrete boardwalk in the Rockaways before Sandy, and those sections held up during the storm while much of the surrounding hardwood did not.
Rockaways residents reacted to Bloomberg’s remarks with a mix of approval and indifference. “Personally, I think it makes sense to have concrete,” said Jerry Perich, who owns a bar in the neighborhood. However, he added, “I think everybody has other things on their mind. People want to get back on their feet and then they’ll worry about the Boardwalk.” John Cori, who has long been an advocate for the conservation of the Rockaways’ eroding shoreline, expressed a similar sentiment: “Worrying about wood versus concrete, it’s an important topic for the future, not right now. We have to think about building a seawall, rock jetties and a lot of sand.” (Indeed, some opponents of Bloomberg’s plan argue that the concrete sections of the boardwalk only survived because they were protected by jetties.) “I don’t think I want that nostalgia to return,” said David Selig, who runs the Rockaway Taco Stand. “I want a future.”
Either way, that future might be a while. Bloomberg also told The Wave, “I don’t know that we can reconstruct the Boardwalk before this summer.” But, he added, “It will be done.”