A dawdling city agency took some of the fun out of a celebrated finned seaside attraction by forcing frolickers into a tight squeeze, and drying up cash for beachfront businesses, after it botched up repairs on their walkway — even after working on them for a year!
The Parks Department missed the deadline to fix the most popular section of Coney Island’s Riegelmann Boardwalk between West 12th Street and Stillwell Avenue, turning participants of last month’s annual Mermaid Parade — and regular weekend boardwalk-goers — into canned sardines.
The agency blamed the glitch on a delayed shipment of wood from South America, which held up workers, and left the path a rag-tag assembly point for disheartened revelers.
“We were squished in at the end, but the parade survived,” said artistic director Dick Zigun, of Coney Island USA.
The snafu also created hardship for businesses along the Boardwalk, which rely on the flood of parade participants and visitors to boost their sales.
“How do you run out of wood?” lamented Ruby’s Old Tyme Bar & Grill operator Michael Sarrel, who said he ended up putting out only “60 percent” of his tables in front of his place.
Before repairs began, the area in front of Ruby’s was a horror show with jutting nails and splintered planks waiting to hobble pedestrians, but their completion apparently wasn’t a priority for the city — right up to the eve of the parade.
When asked if the job would be done in time for the next day’s jaunt, an on-site worker laughed: “Yeah, just add two months to that!”
To cover its tracks, the city chided U.S. Customs for holding up the shipment, but assured that repairs would be completed before July — already weeks into the summer season.
This past weekend, repairs were still ongoing.
©2010 Community News Group
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