The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is open to revisiting the idea of making the Riegelmann Boardwalk a scenic landmark, reports the New York Daily News.
Last year, the LPC rejected Councilman Mark Treyger’s bid to grant the Coney Island boardwalk landmark status – an effort to stall the city’s project to replace its tropical wood planks with textured plastic – in what the councilman described as an “insulting form letter.” The LPC posited that Coney Island’s most important history precedes the boardwalk – which was built in 1923 – and that the structure has been altered too much since its construction to be designated a landmark.
Treyger told us that he contested the LPC’s reasoning at a recent land-use budget hearing, pointing to the fact that before the city purchased Coney Island at the turn of the century, it was privately owned land marked by exclusion and intolerance. Bath houses were segregated by blacks and whites, and waterfront hotels were off limits to Jews.
The building of the boardwalk in 1923 marked a turning point for Coney Island, when it became open to all, Treyger said.
“I strongly disagree with their assertion that most glorious era in Coney Island history predates the boardwalk,” said the councilman. “[The boardwalk] was really our stamp of liberation, of integration and diversity, and it’s become a beacon for immigrant families from all over the world who have travelled there and visited there.”
Treyger also highlighted how two of the city’s three scenic landmarks, Ocean Parkway and Central Park, have also been considerably altered over the last century, addressing the second charge.
LPC Chairwoman Meenakshi Srinivasan responded at the meeting that she would be willing to revisit the issue, according to the councilman.
A spokesperson for commission confirmed to the Daily News, “If significant new information is submitted, the commission will review it.”
Treyger said he plans to restate his arguments at a future meeting with the LPC, citing research by historian Charles Denson in his book Coney Island: Lost and Found.
In November, the Parks Department began construction to replace the boardwalk’s planks, claiming that tropical wood is too costly to maintain and not durable enough to withstand extreme weather events.