Is Letitia James trying to make Bill de Blasio walk the plank?
The public advocate, usually a staunch ally of the mayor, blasted her fellow Democrat at a press conference in Brooklyn yesterday over the city’s plan to convert the iconic Riegelmann Boardwalk to concrete.
Ms. James, standing with elected officials like Comptroller Scott Stringer and Council members Mark Treyger and Chaim Deutsch, said Mr. de Blasio “long promised to all New York that he would change the practices of the previous administration and he would bring people in and that he would not plan without them and that he believed in development from the ground up and not the top down.”
“Providing concrete on this boardwalk is development from the top down,” Ms. James declared. “Mayor de Blasio, you’ve gotta change the plan.”
Ms. James, who once literally sung Mr. de Blasio’s name at a campaign event, ripped the mayor for adhering to a plan begun under his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg. “You’re a new administration. You’ve got to put your stamp on it and you’ve gotta promise the people that you have to come to them first and respect their wishes and what they are wishing right now is for wood, solid wood,” she said.
Mr. de Blasio’s Parks Department is following up on a controversial Bloomberg era initiative to convert the 2.5 mile boardwalk in Coney Island and Brighton Beach to concrete. Mr. Treyger and Mr. Deutsch, the Democrats representing the neighborhoods, want a stretch of the boardwalk landmarked to save the hardwood from turning into concrete and plastic. Portions of the boardwalk are already no longer wood.
The Parks Department argues that the conversion to concrete will save the city money, help the environment by cutting less trees and allow for a 10-foot-wide lane for emergency vehicles. Locals complain that an environmental impact study was never completed and another Hurricane Sandy-like storm surge will whip across the smooth concrete, further damaging buildings near the boardwalk.
Ms. James’ denunciation of the de Blasio plan drew cheers from advocates in Brighton Beach, where the mayor is increasingly unpopular. Ms. James has otherwise rarely criticized Mr. de Blasio in public.
“We live in a concrete city already with skyscrapers and hot asphalt, and when New Yorkers come to the beach, they don’t want to be greeted by more concrete, more asphalt,” Ms. James said. “We all know the city does not do a good job of listening and we are urging the de Blasio administration to do what they promised and to listen.”
Mr. de Blasio did not immediately return a request for comment.