Dear Friends and Residents of Coney Island:
First and foremost, on behalf of everyone at the Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC), I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2009. As we begin the New Year, I wanted to share some thoughts on the current "state of Coney Island," make you aware of the many positive strides we made working together in 2008 and let you know about the exciting challenges facing us in the months ahead.
As the New Year begins, Coney Island finds itself at one of the most critical turning points in its storied history. For while the City's pending rezoning and redevelopment plan holds great promise for the future, the fact is that the Coney Island of today is facing huge challenges. The once-legendary Coney Island amusement area has sadly continued its decades-long cycle of disinvestment and decay, which was capped off this fall by the closing of Astroland after its landlord refused to extend its lease. The vitality of the Boardwalk and amusement area was thrown into further question just recently, when the area's major landowner chose -- on Christmas Eve -- to shutter businesses and refused to extend leases for several long-time Coney Island fixtures.
The reality of Coney Island today demonstrates more clearly than ever that the amusement area needs to be protected from further speculative harm and that it must be rezoned to draw crowds all year round. And as Coney Island neighbors will tell you, we must also find a way to create economic opportunities and affordable housing, so that young people can stay in their own community. It's no small task, to be sure, but it's the only choice for a neighborhood that's been waiting far too long for a change. The good news is, as you'll see from the summary below, that we've made some very positive strides in recent months and that we've got a hugely promising 2009 ahead of us.
City acquires key property in amusement zone -- In October, the NYC Economic Development Corporation proudly announced the City's purchase of a key one-acre parcel along the Boardwalk. This purchase - which was characterized in the press as "a step closer to the Bloomberg administration's plans to retain the historic character of Coney Island" and hailed in the blogs as "a huge development" - will ensure that this property will become part of a permanently protected amusement zone under the City's proposed Coney Island rezoning. The purchase of the Ward property is just the first of what are expected to be a series of land acquisitions in the coming year as the City proceeds with its vision to create a 21st century, year-round entertainment destination and protect Coney Island's amusement legacy in perpetuity.
CIDC sponsors job fairs and career development opportunities -- The CIDC was extremely proud to have sponsored a year-long, comprehensive career opportunities initiative that has provided thousands of Coney Island residents with access to skills training and career development resources. The initiative featured workshops on resume writing and job search techniques, one of the largest job fairs ever held in Coney Island, and a Training Program Fair that provided residents with one-on-one access to career advisors and professional training and certification programs. The CIDC will continue making positive strides in workforce development throughout 2009.
2009 -- Coney Island Rezoning/Redevelopment to
2009 is certain to be one of the most critically important years in the long history of Coney Island, as the public review of the City's proposed Coney Island zoning framework and redevelopment plan is set to begin early in the year. The project is expected to be certified into the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) early in 2009 and the comprehensive public review process -- which will include several public hearings -- will then continue for approximately the next seven months. We will be back in touch with additional details once the ULURP timing is set and we hope that during the process we will hear from the many Coney Island friends and residents who join us in believing that the City's plan represents a thoughtful, achievable vision for a renewed and vigorous Coney Island.
Finally, I would just like to express my gratitude to all of the Coney Island residents, business people, and community leaders with whom we've worked over the past year and thank you for your commitment to this remarkable neighborhood. I know that this process can be challenging at times but I am re-energized each and every time I work with all of you on Coney Island's renaissance. I look forward to sharing even more positive news in 2009 -- from the rezoning to the new community center to Steeplechase Park and the restored B&B Carousell -- and can't wait to get to work with you to continue to make Coney Island the very best it can be. As always, please don't hesitate to call us at 212-312-4233 if we can be of any assistance.