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The city and state resumed talks about the construction of a cement bike path on the Coney Island sand after we put a spotlight on the two-year-long standstill.
Bigwigs from the Parks Department and state Department of Environmental Conservation recently met on the Riegelman Boardwalk to discuss the proposed path, which marked their first communication since 2008. They credited us with focusing their attention back on the project, which has $5.5 million in funding but hasn’t moved forward in six years.
“Your story helped remind everyone of the project and that we need to come to a resolution on it,” said Ilan Kayatsky, spokesman for Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who allocated $3.2 million for the path in 2004.
Discussions stopped because state officials believed the concrete strip, which would include paths allowing wheelchair access to the ocean, would damage the beach, according to Environmental Conservation spokesman Thomas Panzone.
But Parks contends that sand on the north end of the beach where the path would be located “does not tend to erode,” said department spokesman Philip Abramson.
When meeting on the Boardwalk, the state offered suggestions about the physical construction of the bike path and how the city could revamp its proposal to meet requirements and make the path a reality, according to insiders. Neither the city nor the state would reveal details about the recommendations.
It’s about time that cyclists get their own lane -— and get off the Boardwalk, where they often like to ride, said Todd Dobrin, chair of the Coney Island Friends of the Boardwalk.
“Having bikes on the Boardwalk is definitely hazardous to the elderly, disabled and even toddlers,” he said. “It’s a great idea to have a separate bike path.”
Cyclists agree that they’d prefer to cruise down their own track than dodge pedestrians on the Boardwalk. That’s why they’re excited to see officials discussing the bike path once again.
“Good ideas never die,” said Wiley Norvell, spokesman for Transportation Alternatives. “It’s heartening to see a new process beginning to make this bike path a reality.”
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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