This morning the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously voted in favor of designating the Coney Island Boardwalk.
After the vote, the commissioners all applauded, which is atypical for this kind of hearing.
“I can’t think of a more iconic, popular and beloved public space in New York that welcomes all people, and really does represent New York’s progressive values of inclusivity and diversity,” said LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan.
But what does this mean, exactly, for the 2.7-mile boardwalk that stretches between West 37th Street to Brighton 15th Street?
At a public hearing in April, it was explained that the commission would only have an advisory role in deciding on any changes to the boardwalk, including the replacement of materials. The final decision would be made by the Public Design Commission because the city-owned boardwalk would be classified as a scenic landmark.
These questions came up again before the final vote. Commissioner Wellington Chen asked, in the case of a storm, not unlike Hurricane Sandy, who would decide on the replacement materials? The answer, provided by Mark A. Silberman, the LPC’s general council, was much the same as at the public hearing: The commission would have an advisory role, providing a recommendation to the Parks Department, which will make the final decision.
But for most of the commissioners, this did not sway their vote.
Some reflected on their personal histories with the boardwalk. “Strangely enough, living in the Bronx, I spent all of my time going to the beach at Coney Island,” said Commissioner Kim Vauss. “I didn’t even know there was a beach in the Bronx.”
Others saw the vote as setting a precedent. Commissioner Michael Devonshire added that he has always seen the boardwalk as a thoroughfare, and is hoping that, because the cultural significance was taken into account during its designation, the commission can look at areas such as the Bowery and Tin Pan Alley in Manhattan next.
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