I don’t usually extend my work as a critic to reviewing architectural designs and structures. But on a recent and near-perfect late winter afternoon in this March of 2013, I decided to celebrate the first hint of spring with a bike ride on the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk. Sounds impossible in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy? Well its not! On that day a week ago I took the photo above of the long and very pristine section of the boardwalk that runs from about Beach 74th Street up to near 80th Street. While politicians and well-meaning community leaders jockey for position as millions of dollars go up for restoration grabs, few seem to know there was (and is) a solid and durable way to organize the reconstruction of this treasured beachfront asset, the beloved Rockaway Boardwalk. The section depicted here was the more recently constructed portion that utilized a brilliantly creative composite “stone” made, as I understand it, from a product blending recycled concrete and plastic. Talk about “going green!” What a splendid way to protect the environment, and as you can see in this unretouched photograph, the product weathered the “Storm of the Century” just beautifully with its eye-popping domino design still beckoning to all comers.
How has the New York media remained so blissfully unaware of this? Why waste time with months or years of dickering about how to proceed with the reconstruction? Go and see for yourself how successful this method has been in the face of everything nature could throw at it.
Step down on the sand and examine the solid support sturctures that are the underpinings of the span. While there, take note that the area is also in the zone of the massive stone jetties, the installation of which will be a critical future component of any serious longterm effort to protect this, one of the most beautiful beaches in all the world. Let’s not waste time with million-dollar impact studies and design competitions. Let’s get down to business with the proven strategy that works. The clock is ticking.