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Last month’s nor’easter put a beating on the Sheepshead Bay footbridge, and one local official wants to see it rebuilt on the cheap — with free wood from the Riegelmann Boardwalk.
“I have to walk across the bridge on my tippy toes because I’m afraid to put my heel down,” said Community Board 15 Chairwoman Theresa Scavo. “With the amount of wood being tossed from the Coney Island Boardwalk, it could be used to replace the broken planks on the footbridge.”
Two wooden sections of the world-famous boardwalk stretching from Brighton Beach to Sea Gate are now being replaced with pre-fabricated concrete slabs because the city says it can no longer keep repairing the span using expensive and tough-to-maintain tropical hardwoods.
Because city contractors get to resell all the wood that they pull off the Boardwalk, Scavo says the city can make better use of it.
In May, some of the wood removed from Riegelmann Boardwalk ended up inside a trendy Red Hook furniture studio as pricey lounge chairs and other household appointments.
The city doesn’t make any money from the sale of the furniture or the wood planks, but a Parks Department spokesman justified the giveaway because contractors hired by the city to remove the wood tend to “submit lower bids” because they know they can resell the salvaged material.
This time around, however, Savo wants to use some of the wood destined to become over-priced end tables to make the highly trafficked Ocean Avenue Footbridge a lot safer for pedestrians in her community forced to contend with broken slats and exposed nails.
The Department of Transportation oversees the footbridge and is still trying to determine the scope of the repair project, and how long it’s going to take to accomplish.
Work crews began marking off particularly problematic areas of the connection this week. But Scavo — who began complaining to the transportation department about the footbridge over a month ago — doesn’t want repairs done piecemeal, not with all that wood available from the nearby Boardwalk.
“Why not fix it one-hundred-percent?” she said. “Do the whole thing the right way once.”
The Parks Department isn’t ready to hand over its valuable lumber anytime soon, however.
A spokesperson for the agency says that whatever salvageable wood doesn’t go directly to contractors is already used to repair benches and other architectural projects in the system.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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