At Coney Island boardwalk: it’s wood vs. wood-alternative
Emotions are running high over the building materials to be used to replace Coney Island, N.Y.’s famous boardwalk, according to an article in the New York Times.
While community members clamor for wood to be used to repair stretches of the 2.7 mil boardwalk, authorities are suggesting easier-to-maintain non-wood alternatives.
Arguments for and against real wood boards are plentiful, and are represented by the following: "It’s like putting a piece of plastic into a diamond ring, and this is our jewel,” Rob Burstein, the chairman of the Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance, was quoted as saying. Also: “Suggesting that you can only have wooden Boardwalks because that’s what they were originally built of is like saying you should only have cobblestone streets,” Adrian Benepe, parks commissioner, was quoted as saying.
The city’s suggested plan calls for $6.85 million to replace 60,110 square feet of boardwalk with wood-alternative planks.
Both parties have good points
Both parties have good points but since they are spending the public's tax dollars, the decision must be based on suitability for use and lowest overall cost over time, not on nostalgia, personal preference or manufacturer's claims (though nostalgia might be considered if suitable options are of comparable cost). While I have no dog in this particular fight, as one long involved in the forest products business, I do have some insight on wood, preservative treatment and non-wood substitutes, having represented a failed alternative deck product at our distribution division and having seen the performance of several other wood alternatives over time. Three things to consider: 1. Suitability. The Coney Island folks should consider that wood alternatives can be very hot under foot compared to wood. This can be a serious issue on sunny summer days when boardwalkers are barefoot, and could bring liability should a baby blister her tender feet. Tests should be run on all materials under consideration to know in actual degrees just how hot the "boards" will be on 90-degree days, and what the risks are in terms of discomfort, liability and potential loss of traffic. Further, plastic can be slick when wet, despite wood-grain textures embedded in the deck surface. Smooth, real wood is used for sailboat decks specifically because it maintains good traction when wet. Finally, UV rays are hard on all deck products (wood turns gray, plastic can become brittle). Plastic deck manufacturers should be made to show how they have surmounted the issues that caused past alternative deck failures. 2. Durability. Wood is a proven commodity with a known life span, and has been safely pressure treated to last for many decades. Guaranteed. Alternative deck products have improved over the years and also come with various guarantees. But there have been notable failures and, despite accelerated testing to project estimated service life, we won't really know how these products fare over a 40-year period until 40 years have actually passed (unless the products fail sooner). 3. Cost. Alternative deck products have typically been 2-3 times more expensive than pressure-treated wood, and some are considerably higher. Such a costly product would therefore have to last 2-3 times longer than wood, or save that much in maintenance to be of equal value. It's possible, but officials need to determine the relative value with certainty. Bottom line: Involved parties should get the facts on suitability, durability and cost to determine the most cost-effective solution for the taxpayers. They needn't get caught up in the tradition of the wood boardwalk, nor in the claims of alternative deck proponents. Prove the best value and buy it. If claims cannot be substantiated or sufficiently backed with a performance bond, go with the proven product.
In Milwaukee, Master Lock and Obama talk about jobs
When the President of the United States visits a factory, that’s news. But there was even more to President Obama’s trip to Master Lock’s Milwaukee plant — there was talk of jobs.
After recognizing Master Lock several times in recent months for moving some jobs from China back to the United States, President Obama visited Milwaukee last week led a discussion on jobs and the economy.
"It was an honor to host President Obama in Milwaukee and to give him a first-hand look at the jobs that Master Lock has returned to the U.S.," said John Heppner, Master Lock president and CEO. "As an American manufacturing company, we are proud of our efforts to insource jobs and look forward to further helping improve the climate for U.S. manufacturing through continued dialogue with the government, educational institutions and fellow businesses."
Master Lock has brought back from overseas about 100 union jobs to its Milwaukee factory, the company said.
Heppner was part of a White House forum held in January, a forum during which he alluded to the challenge of skilled labor in North America. "The number of young people exposed to skilled labor trades through education or family and friends is declining while our current skilled labor workforce is aging," he said.
The company said it is partnering with local technical colleges and universities to promote and courage skilled labor training.
Also, the supply chain structure in North America needs innovation, Heppner stressed during the forum. "We will continue to explore opportunities to improve efficiencies and productivity, resulting in additional skilled labor jobs in the future," Heppner said.
Master Lock’s decision to bring jobs back to the U.S. was partially motivated by economic reasons related to increasingly higher labor and logistics costs in Asia, and ongoing labor availability challenges — especially in the coastal areas of China, the company said.
Nice, the President is all
Nice, the President is all worked up over 100 "union" jobs, yet refuses to approve the Keystone pipe line which would create an estimated 20,000 + and lower dependency on imported oil. I guess this is what the press refers (as well as Mr. Yun, see previous article on housing starts)to as "sustained job creation." Don't get me wrong I applaud Master Lock, just marvel at the hypocrisy of the current regime.
NAHB likes “solid” growth from January report
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is encouraged by the second-best pace of overall housing production since October 2008.
Housing starts increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 699,000 in Januray, according to the latest report from the Deparment of Commerce.
The "solid housing starts report indicates that builders are putting more of their crews back to work, and adds to the growing field of evidence that the overall housing market is gradually but consistently moving in the right direction,” said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the NAHB and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla.
The NAHB’s David Crowe, chief economist, said: “The fact that the three-month moving average for housing starts has now increased for nine consecutive months and is approaching the 700,000 mark for the first time since October of 2008 is indicative of a solid recovery in housing activity stemming from recent firming in employment and consumer confidence measures. That said, housing production is still far from what would be considered normal in a healthy market, and many challenges remain for home builders in terms of tight credit conditions, difficult appraisals and the continued flow of foreclosed properties on the market – all of which are certainly slowing the pace of improvement in both housing and the overall economy.”
Following significant upward revisions reported for both November and December, single-family starts held virtually flat in January with a 1.0 percent decline to a 508,000-unit rate. Together with the revised December number, this is the best pace of single-family starts since April of 2010, when the home buyer tax credit was active.
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