Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cumbersome Issues At CIDC Meeting

At last night’s CIDC Coney Island Development Corporation meeting, which took place at the aquarium’s Education Hall, many of the points and issues to deal with at hand seemed to be full of tight fixes and peculiar situations with many cumbersome hurdles to overcome.

First up was a Doe Fund representative who spoke about the history and the positive results of the program. The question was still raised about the number of Coney residents hired to work in Coney Island. Joan West, director of development at the Doe Fund specified that about eight workers in the Doe Fund were from Coney but have been working in other areas, which is part of the program in order to keep workers on the right track - and not be deviated back into the way of life that the program is trying to help them avoid. They could be unfluenced, negatively, by their old aquiantances. West assured the panel that the workers have functioned in other areas and benefited from the program.

Wearing a new hat as chairperson of the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce, Carol Albert, operator of the Cyclone and owner of Astroland’s 'last season', Albert wrote a letter to Lynn Kelly, president of CIDC regarding the Doe Fund, “The Doe Fund’s presence has made a real difference. Hope they return for the 2007 season. Give these guys an opportunity”, Kelly said, reading Albert's words. Afterwards the decision to continue with the Doe Fund for this year was unanimously voted upon. Though, when given a mid-May start. Dick Zigun threw in the need to have them start earlier. “It’s filthy out there”, said Zigun. The panel headed by Kelly will begin inquiries into it.

At the end of a twenty minute slide presentation on recommendations for various fund raisers, the work ahead to create a buzz for Coney island, and marketing plans for various capital campaigns. Dick Zigun included that the reality of fundraising is dependent on whether condos in the immediate amusement area will be constructed or not. “It won’t create the excitement in the area”, said Zigun - pertaining to the fundraising. The presentation also called for an organization with an information website to include every thing available in Coney from A to Z. “Coney needs a Czar” read one of the document lines in the presentation on the screen projector.

One of the campaigns for raising funds included, in particular, a wholloping 6 million dollars to complete the restoration and reassembly of the B& B carousel.

Another topic covered was the call for summer street activities along Stillwell Avenue from Surf Ave to the boardwalk. The idea, which was discussed in the last meeting talks about placing concessions along that strip. As in the last meeting Zigun raised the concerns about the competition it would bring to the businesses in the immediate area. “Food vendors would hurt the vendors up on the boardwalk”, said Zigun. But the general concerns lie in the problem of diminishing the needed and vital parking. That alone threatened the idea until one board member suggested to place the stands on the sidewalk to cover the eyesore-wooden fences placed by Thor. Which Thor recently mentioned having decorative murals to be painted on them. Another member agreed that the current fences are a horror by saying, “People are coming to Coney Island and saying this is the last season.” He also said, "They are already tagged with graffiti". But one major problem in placing kiosks or concessions there is that it would force the foot traffic to walk on the street. In conclusion the same board member who offered placing the stands on the sidewalk suggested using narrow concessions, which would not interfere with the whole sidewalk. “That way, we’ll have our cake and eat it too.” He said. The board decided that they would look into them because the strip definitely needs to be livened up, somehow. “We need to keep Stillwell Avenue exciting”, said Lynn Kelly. (pictured above)

Another idea , previously mentioned (and something Carol Albert is hoping to do) is for some of Astorland’s rides to be moved on to 10th Street next to the Cyclone when Astroland is closed next season. She is concerned that a big empty lot next to the Cylcone would hurt business. She has already seen a drop in ridership. Also, the same parking concerns were brought up as well as the various hurdles with all the agencies and departments such a project would require.

Towards the conclusion of the meeting they discussed the overpass bridge from the West 8th train station to the aquarium, which they all agreed looks like another eye sore, and that something needs to be done about it. Though some efforts have been made like having volunteers simply paint over it, certain city agencies have been backing off from most solution requests presented due to too many security and environmental concerns.

Finally, they mentioned that Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz will be in this year’s mermaid parade and were preparing a van or truck for him to ride in which would be decorated. Lynn Kelly also joked and told the panel, “Get all your costumes ready, like….yesterday.” It’s coming fast!

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