Manhattan Beach Esplanade Plan Gets Public Attention

The plan to repair and reopen the Manhattan Beach esplanade, a once-public waterside walkway running down the length of the peninsula, is getting some citywide press.

We first told you about the plan two weeks ago, when Sheepshead Bites discovered it was in a list of recommendations made by the Brooklyn Borough Board for inclusion in the Vision 2020 proposal.

The proposal would repair the existing Manhattan Beach seawall, which has crumbled under the ocean’s pounding during large storms. It would also connect it with neighboring Brighton Beach, presumably to the beginning of the Riegelmann Boardwalk.

Or, as WPIX puts it, “It’ll hook exclusive Manhattan Beach right into the borough’s less swanky Brighton Beach.”

Ahem… right… moving on.

The New York Post did a piece that looks at some of the challenges of instituting the Manhattan Beach plan, including a 1993 court order that essentially granted the public land to the property owners that line it.

The weatherworn Manhattan Beach cement esplanade dates back to the mid 1800s and was once heavily used.
But a state judge in 1993 ruled it private property belonging to shorefront homeowners by siding with Jack Laboz, a politically connected Brooklyn developer.
Laboz six years earlier blocked off part of the walkway by erecting a massive fence behind his grand home at 293 Amherst St. His deep pockets helped withstand a legal challenge by some of Manhattan Beach’s roughly 800 homeowners.
… Laboz put up the fence because his home’s large windows regularly offered backyard views of picnickers setting fires and passersby having sex.
“The irony is that after the suit, there was a huge Nor’easter that crumbled the walkway into basically nothing. Now, no one walks there,” said Michael Gellar, former president of the Manhattan Beach Community Group.
Today, even sections of the esplanade along public dead-end streets are fenced up and covered with “No Trespassing” signs warning “violators will be prosecuted.”

What remains to be seen is whether Manhattan Beach residents will welcome the reopening of the promenade if the city manages to wrestle back ownership from the landlords. What do you think?


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