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The Parks Department can rip up cherished Boardwalk planks and replace them with slabs of plastic lumber and concrete without an environmental impact study, state Supreme Court Judge Martin Solomon ruled on Monday — claiming that no one has proven that the new materials would hurt the People’s Playground and its environs.
“Without expert testimony, petitioners cannot establish a substantial adverse change in existing air quality, ground, or surface water quality, or a substantial increase in potential for erosion, flooding, leaching or drainage problems,” Solomon said of the Friends of the Boardwalk lawsuit, which hoped to curtail the city’s revamping of the wooden esplanade until an environmental impact study was conducted. The jurist represented Coney Island in the state senate from 1977 to 1995.
The city applauded Solomon’s decision — and said it was already warming up its cement mixers — but added it was open to hearing more concerns from those who live near the legendary walkway.
“We are pleased the judge found that the Parks Department complied with the law, thus allowing this project to proceed,” said attorney Katie Kendall, who argued the city’s case in court on Oct. 26. “The Parks Department will continue to weigh the local communities’ needs and concerns.”
Foes of the stone-cold plan say they were considering an appeal — arguing that Hurricane Sandy proved that environmental studies are necessary. Wood advocates say that when the storm hit, parts of the Boardwalk already converted to concrete suffered worse erosion than wooden sections.
“You simply can not build a project through trial and error without knowing the effects it will have on the community it is built in,” said plaintiff Todd Dobrin, who noted that the city was in the process of redrawing flood zones and rewriting building codes in Sandy’s aftermath.
Other lawsuit signatories said Coney Island will never be the same if the Boardwalk is given a concrete makeover.
“People will miss the wood,” said Brighton Neighborhood Association president and Community Board 13 member Pat Singer. “This is our legacy to the future. It doesn’t belong to you and me, it belongs to future children and it belongs to history.”Reach reporter Will Bredderman at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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