Ocean City looks south for new boardwalk material

    What makes a boardwalk a boardwalk? One key component is the actual boards upon which you walk. And one Ocean City businessman wants the wood used for Ocean City’s boards to change when the city replaces the boardwalk from 5th to 12th street.

    John Stauffer, owner of Johnson’s Popcorn, told the Press of Atlantic City on Sunday that southern yellow pine is too soft. An alternate would be the harder and more durable ipe or greenheart, which come from Brazil and Guyana respectively.

    But suggestions of using that wood has raised concerns among environmentalists.

    Wildwood felt their wrath in 2008 and 2009 when they redid parts of their boardwalk with ipe.

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    “It’s like walking on a coffin. It’s the boardwalk of shame,” Georgina Shanley, co-founder of Friends of the Rainforest told me at the time.

    Ocean City also floated the idea of using this kind of wood in 2008 and got a flood of negative press and protesting emails because of it.

    Stauffer wants the issue to be put on a ballot to let the residents decide.

    It’s a tough choice for boardwalk towns. Ipe or greenheart is hard and lasts longer than domestic woods. But the public relations backlash will be huge, and given the BYOB debacle, Ocean City doesn’t exactly need to be highlighted in the media for infighting again.

    If it does get on the ballot, Ocean City residents will vote in November.

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