Statement of the Historic Districts Council
April 17, 2018
BOROUGH OF BROOKLYN
CONEY ISLAND (RIEGELMANN) BOARDWALK (Scenic Landmark)
The Coney Island Boardwalk is arguably the most famous boardwalk on Earth and an obvious landmark. The Historic Districts Council strongly supports its designation as a New York City Scenic Landmark since by any measure, an accounting of New York City’s landmarks which does not include the Boardwalk would be irreducibly incomplete. We question, however, any other purpose which this designation might serve.
As HDC understands it, current administrative interpretations of the Landmarks Commission’s policing power abrogates almost all authority the agency might exercise over this property. All future changes to the actual boardwalk, in style, material or even form will be reviewed in an advisory capacity without public testimony to help guide the Commissioners’ advice. The Public will have the opportunity to weigh in about existing buildings that fall within the bounds of the Scenic Landmark, but that was the case previously when the Art Commission had sole design review over the property. Issues of the historic context of this public property – the very Boards of the Boardwalk – still fall under the binding authority of the Art Commission and are ultimately controlled by the Parks Department, the very agency which replaced them with concrete in the first place. This is not even a case of closing the barn door after the horse has fled. Rather, this is an instance of putting up a sign identifying the empty building as a barn in the first place and calling it a job well done. Yes, we agree – the Coney Island Boardwalk is a landmark. Now please, treat it like one.