Cheers and tears: Long Beach Boardwalk demolition begins

Posted at 6:18 PM, Jan 05, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-05 18:40:39-05

LONG BEACH, LONG ISLAND (PIX11)-  Nearly the entire Long Beach community cheered for the future while remembering the past Saturday, as the city starts to demolish the iconic boardwalk that was damaged beyond repair during sandy.

“I worked on the boardwalk.  I made cotton candy and we got free rides before the real customers came in.” said Long Beach resident, Robin Stein.

Long Beach resident Jimmy Rogers recalls memories on the boardwalk. “The boardwalk means a lot down here: watch the waves, see the girls, meet your friends, it’s a social thing.”

Many of the people who call Long Beach home still have not returned to their houses, but that didn’t stop them from coming to say goodbye to their old friend.

Some even pulled up loose planks and collected broken pieces of the boardwalk to hold onto as memories. It will take about a month to demolish the entire two mile stretch and will cost about 25 million dollars to rebuild. But city officials say they hope to have a new boardwalk up and running in time for the summer.

Meanwhile neighboring communities feel left out in the cold.

“While the people here in Long Beach are able to reminisce and start rebuilding, not every place is as lucky.  Just over the bridge here in Island Park, this community feels like it’s been forgotten with everyone passing through just to get to long beach” said Island Park resident Tommy Asher.  “Since day one all the FEMA trucks, all the government officials drive down Austin Boulevard for their photo-ops in long beach and they haven’t even thrown us out a bottle of water on the way through.”

The village deputy mayor says about half of the 5-thousand people living in island park still cannot return to their homes.  The community hall was completely destroyed, kids are clustered into one school, and the fire department has very limited staff and supplies. Firefighter Anthony D’Esposito is heartbroken, “it hurts a little bit when we see our governor going to long beach, our senators going to long beach, and they seem to forget about Island Park.”