Boardwalk Phase II meeting – My Experience

bumpout1

(rendering of a possible bump-out w/shade, concessions, seating and bathrooms)

Sustainable Long Island hosted three public meetings this week regarding the Phase II of our boardwalk. This phase concerns design elements, amenities (bathrooms!) and concessions. For those who weren’t able to attend, you can still participate via online survey:  [LINK]. This survey does not last forever, so take it as soon as you can.

I attended one of these meetings, so here’s my experience:

First of all, there are plenty of conspiracies on how our city already decided this phase II; how these meetings are just a PR stunt. While I do love a good conspiracy, I’m also quite gullible, yet hopeful. I truly believe the input from these meetings will create an outline for the future of our boardwalk. Whether that’s true or not is one thing, but we did get to speak out loud as to what we want. I cannot see the city or Sustainable LI ignoring what we said. The process was very fun and interactive. The Sustainable Long Island representatives were extremely knowledgable and encouraged us to think big and be creative. They made me feel like my input matters.

How does the City of Long Beach plan on paying for Phase II amenities? I took a screen shot of that info:

phaseIIfinancialFEMA will be paying for 10 buildings the same size as before (concessions, bathrooms, etc.). None of these buildings will be on the actually beach (due to DEC regulations), so the boardwalk it is. Bump-outs is one idea as to where they could go. Extra funds will have to magically appear if we go beyond what FEMA gives us. With that, my motto is “keep it limited, but make it look really nice”.

Us residents were split up into small groups based on what table we were sitting at. With the guidance of a Sustainable LI rep, we talked about the following topics:

  1. What type of amenities we would like (bathrooms, food, retail, art, shade, music, etc)
  2. What type of concessions we would like at these amenities
  3. How many bump-outs
  4. Location of the bump-outs

Every idea we came up with was voted upon. It was pretty interesting because while I do have very strong opinions on what I want, the overall results were a good balance. I got a understanding of what was most important to my fellow group members and why.

The idea of bump-outs lead to so many questions. We were told they had to be on the north side of the boardwalk, but how would that work? Would they extend over the streets? Would we lose parking spots? Another big topic was the amount of concessions: we already have food trucks and mobile vendors. Would these concessions be a replacement? Plus with the possible iStar development, how much food/retail do we really need and want? Again, this whole process was just a wish list. FEMA is giving us 10 buildings, so lets figure out what we want and don’t want. Sustainable LI will present these results at a City Council Meeting in September where the process will then move into a final phase.That was the impression I got.

Some amenities and concession ideas that were thrown around my group included:

  • Greenery, plants, trees
  • Shade (Pergola)
  • Art/sculptures on the boardwalk
  • Food (pretty much everybody said no junk food. Only quality stuff)
  • Light Retail (sun screen, towels, etc.)
  • Fitness stations (bring back those pull bars?)
  • A remote Police Station (security was a big concern)
  • Education
  • More events and entertainment: Quiksilver Pro, vendor/craft fairs.
  • Showers/Mist stations indoor/outdoor (mostly for tourists to get these folks to stay here longer and spend $)

My personal feeling: if we have concessions, then seating with shade would be nice mixed with art and greenery. I just want it to look nice, classy, beachy and simple. I really want art and sculptures to give these amenities some soul (here are some beautification ideas that I posted about in the past). My group stressed how we do want amenities, but only on the bump-outs. I personally wouldn’t want to see the bike lanes or the current boardwalk lanes to be obstructed by anything.

When it was my groups turn to speak, I mentioned the idea of having a bandshell/gazebo as an alternative to the concerts on the beach- a place for local musicians or school events, etc.. Smaller scale events that would not require the mobile stage. Just an idea, so don’t shoot me if you think that’s terrible.

Using a map of the boardwalk, my group placed stickers as to where we’d like to see the bump-outs and amenities (photos below). The bump-outs are represented by the yellow post-it notes. The colorful stickers represent what is on the chart below. Are we right with our choices? It’s so subjective. I personally want less, but this was the result of six people. It was interesting to see each persons vision.

map1

map_AMap_BMap_C

 

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24 thoughts on “Boardwalk Phase II meeting – My Experience”

  1. Completely unrelated, but I just want to say that this blog is absolutely fantastic. We recently moved here from a heavily infested blog town and find this to be one of the best. Keep up good work!

    Completely related: I am glad to hear how art and amenities are being tied into the final phase of our wonderful boardwalk. I get the feeling how overdevelopment is a concern. I love this blogs attitude of keeping it limited, but making it look nice. I like that 🙂

  2. Cinthya, wow! Thank you so much for those kind words. I wish I knew what heavily infested blog town you’re talking about haha. Regarding the art being tied in, it’s more of a wish list. the city didnt say they were doing it, but the majority of people at the meeting said they wanted some kind of art. it’s all about the masses, so take the survey!

  3. Anthony, thanks for the wonderful summary. I agree with you that we’ll have some people who will say this is just a PR stunt. Hopefully, however, most will recognize that this is an excellent way to get informed, get involved, and get the right things done.

    My only disappointment is that this effort focused exclusively on the 2.2 mile boardwalk, and there were no similar plans for the West End ramps. We too have needs for amenities, occasional concessions and bump-outs. I shared this request with our facilitator at the West End meeting.

  4. Only a Republican would this a PR stunt. It’s great that the Dem city council actually cares and want to hear what the people want. The Republicans ignored the public just look at the Quiksilver fiasco from a few years back.

  5. It truly is a shame that with the amount of money (no it has not been stated but with 44M on the boardwalk, we can all agree this will be a large expenditure) being spent on this phase of the boardwalk the city could not hire a professional research company (full disclosure, I have worked for a market research companies for over 18 years) to gather the desires of all city residents with a better designed and executed survey.

    I attended the first session and have to say our facilitator was not the greatest, a professional company would have had better facilitators who would have better able to focus our table (It appears Anthony did have a better one than we did)

    Regarding the online “voodoo/pseudo poll” , someone on Facebook, noted that the survey was flawed and gave some reasons, I am not sure if that person had a research background or if the errors were that blatant. There are multiple issues with using a survey such as this one to determine what should or more importantly what should not be done. Some basic things can be found here http://goo.gl/FYeLwF

    Although I did not take an actual survey at the first session the audience tended to skew towards an older audience, while the reverse is most likely true of users of the boardwalk. I also question what outreach the city has done to gather the opinions of the less affluent and minority populations of our town, whose participation have historically been low in research studies without active tageting of those groups.

    If even the most junior intern had presented this survey as a final product, the consensus would have been “thankfully it is August and they will be back in school next month”. If a survey such as the one presented by the city were shown to a client with any research knowledge, that client would have politely listened, quickly ended the meeting and probably not called back for future bids.

    Regarding the conspiracies, if you went back and looked at the dates of the phase 1 focus groups/surveys and when Liro presented the plans for the boardwalk I think you would find the time between these events to be rather tight. Also some of the drawings presented at the phase 2 focus groups were rather well defined for a project that is just in the discovery phase.

  6. Captain, good thoughtful comments, but I think you overstate the problems with the survey/feedback sessions. While we can agree that there could have been improvements in the survey structure and perhaps you needed a better facilitator, please don’t suggest the results will be non-representative until we hear the results.

    I believe in Phase I there were 2500 respondents. If they get the same number of Phase II responses, and each response represents a household, that would be a representative sample size. Forgive me for being a little wonky, but 2500 responses for a 15000 Long Beach household population yields results that have a high (95%) confidence level with a margin of error under 2%.

    I will agree that the communication could have been better. As a simple action the slide presentation shown at the meetings should have been available before and after the meeting.

    And your concern regarding turn-around time may be overstated. Any good firm could review the results and prepare a report for the City Council by the September meeting.

    Once again, let’s see the results before we throw the baby out with the survey bath water.

  7. Captain makes very valid points, and there’s no doubt in my mind that much of the “smoke and mirrors” of Sustainable’s “focus groups” is just whitewashing for public pacification. The fix may be in or ti may not. Certainly the City’s probably still open to ideas but probably has a plan regardless of what the people want.

    I don’t know how much that would matter. The fact is that the City is moving forward and we should be getting some nice improvements.

    Seth can fawn over the Democrat’s focus group and I can rail against the choice of an openly Socialist Sustainable Long Island as a choice to run this exercise. I don’t think it matters. We’re getting something here and information is moving in both directions.

    Let’s hope the City handles this much as it handled the boardwalk: Hire a qualified engineering firm to design and supervise a low bidding qualified construction firm to do the work. Coordinate with FEMA to minimize the taxpayers’ burden. Communicate with the taxpayers without caving to any special interest “wacko” mouthpiece and get the job done.

    So far, so good.

  8. Ed, Were the 2500 respondents all LB residents? I do not believe that is the case and that is one of the flaws in the methodology I was referring to. You used the population of 15,000 households for your calculations and since they have no idea where the respondents actually lived (because it was self selectable) you cannot accurately determine the confidence level, error level. If you push that out to just Nassau County, which I would not do since it is also a guess, your number grows to 466,000 households, what would the margin of error be then?

    The turn around time I am calling suspect was not the time for the survey results to be posted, any body can report data quickly, what I am questioning is the time between the focus groups and the plans being developed by Liro, to me that seemed to be awful quick.

    “Lets see the results”…. IMO The results have a high chance of not being representative, because both the instrument and methodology are flawed. They will stand up and say we got XXXX number of responses and that is YY%, which is a phenomenal response rate and this is what the people want. And everyone will say WOW!. They will throw out words like statistically significant and more people will say WOW. Perhaps this flawed survey will mimic what a survey with a representative sample would but I do not know of any successful entity that would spend millions of dollars on those results without first doing a survey with a truly representative sample reaching all portions of our residents(and our visitors) population. Except for the marketing team for New Coke, the Tropicana carton redesign teams or Eric Cantors polling company..

  9. @Captain obvious- I’m sure you’ve right about non-residents voting. But remember the Boardwalk was built with Federal money, not local taxes. I’m sure many conservatives would give this as a tiny example of how you give up “home rule” when you depend on Federal money. I think all these State and Federal funds were granted to help rebuild the devastated City. Long Beach is on a crusade to attract outsiders, so “newcomers” will increasingly influence decisions like the this boardwalk question. I wonder how those Congressmen in Nebraska would feel about the $150 million allocated for our flooded hospital that went into the vault of a place that never got its feet wet.

  10. Agreed Cinthya. While I prefer to react to professionally driven proposals, analyzing the pros and cons of alternatives as opposed to participating in open ended brainstorming, I am glad to read Anthony’s feeling that the meeting was valuable.

  11. As I remember, the Quicksilver event was impacted by a hurricane causing the City to devote its resources to the crises of emergency management left in Irene’s wake. We oughtn’t ask for public opinion to be the driver in such situations even if some people were disappointed by the cancellation of some highly anticipated events. That’s when responsible leadership is required. Nor should public input driven by questionable methodologies (Cap’t Obvious’ points quite valid) determine all aspects of City planning. While I disagree with your read on this Seth, count me as a -1 on Neutron’s reprimand. I simply disagree with you, believe Cap’t O has made great sense, and hope that Anthony’s read on the process is accurate.

  12. Captain, you pointed out that the survey responses received during Phase I may have come not only from Long Beachers but also other non-Long Beach Nassau respondents. You suggest this might significantly water down the accuracy of the results. I disagree for two reasons.

    First, maybe it’s good to get input from outside Long Beach, since they also may use the Boardwalk. But, secondly, the results of the expanded population don’t significantly affect the accuracy: even if you use the 460,000 Nassau population a 2500 person sample still yields a margin of error of +/-2% error…clearly acceptable for this type of survey.

    So, while I agree that there may have been a better methodology available, please don’t dismiss the value of the current approach. There’s great value in having these meetings, getting feedback, getting results that are very likely representative of what our community wants. Don’t discount the good at the expense of seeking perfection. Wait for the results and celebrate we have our community involved in decisions.

  13. The City makes no money off tourism. Sure, the business owners in the City make money from tourism, but the City itself makes little net money from it after expenses for services needed to support “visitors”. If the City was raking in money from tourism, the property tax increases and endless bonding would stop. Every proposal that seeks to increase tourism, or make it “better” for tourists, simply places greater burdens on residents of the City – parking, congestion, noise, litter, crime.

  14. Why don’t we advocate for an extension of the boardwalk west and connect it to the Atlantic Beach boardwalk.? This is a win win for all. Maybe even connect to a bike path over the Atlantic Beach Bridge and to the bike path inLawrence along the Nassau Expressway. This could provide more recreation opportunities for our Orthodox neighbors who only walk into Atlantic Beach.

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