Friday, November 16, 2007

Hold The Hoopla - The Opposition Takes Aim

Image courtesy of supercapacity (

Already, that 'Bloomberg Announcement' that seemed like a promising magical sweep of the city's powerful wand to finally give Coney Island its long-awaited rebirth, begins to show its fault lines. The new plans announced last week by Mayor Bloomberg for the city to come in and designate Coney's amusement district as parkland in order to protect and preserve the area as an amusement district has begun attracting opposition by a few city officials and land owners.

Aside from those in favor of Bloomber's plan, like Dick Zigun; founder of Coney Island USA, who benefited handsomely by the city's wand in acquiring the building his organization was housed in, many others weren't so gung-ho.

Though the Mayor, in his press announcement included a positive comment from Domenick Recchia indicating his support for the plan, Recchia, later made it clear that it was meant in general, for the rejuvenation of Coney Island. Mr. Recchia, in fact doesn't think that mapping parcels of the amusement district into city-owned parkland is the way to go. He feels it's better to work with current landowners. "You still have other landowners besides Thor Equities that were there for 50 years when nobody else was, and they won’t be able to capitalize on the plan if you map it parkland.”, told Recchia to
The Observer. This was probably the first stick that was put in front Bloomberg's plan

Other hurdles through which the plan's movement will have to leap over, have been indicated by State Senator Diane Savino, who pointed out that state legislation would have to first pass approval of the parkland property swap.

[Map of designated areas. Click to enlarge]

Those with other issues on the plan are Deno's owner/operator, the Vourderis family and Gargiulo's Restaurant who fear the city could displace them from the land let alone from capitalizing on the plan. “We hope that the city doesn’t force us to lose our land at an unfair price and against our wishes,” said Dennis Vourderis in the Brooklyn Paper.

Even Joe Sitt released a statement about the Bloomberg's plan, saying he was "disappointed" by it but hopes to work positively with the city. "We are optimistic that a deal can be reached between the city, the landowners and the community to make Coney Island an even greater place to live and visit", said Sitt in a comment released by Thor's PR rep., Stefan Friedman, which was posted on the
CIUSA board by moderator David Gratt.

The community itself have expressed concerns about the length of time (10-20 years) it could take to complete construction. "20 years?? Coney will be under water by then", wrote Gravesende in the Coney Island USA bulletin board. Recchia has also indicated that battles in court by land owners with the city could be a major issue with delays which could prolong the start of construction for years.

Although these new plans are very similar to the Thor/Sitt plans, albeit the parkland swap scenario and a few specific zoning strategies, the plight with this new chapter will center on weather parkland mapping is the only way to protect and preserve the area as a designated amusement and historic district for the future of Coney Island's legacy or weather long-time business land owners receive the priority to keep (or down the line sell) their valuable enterprises.

As all sides will probably agree - generating better communication with all parties to re-examine and establish modifications to incorporate those land owners "within" a parkland strategy would best uphold that legacy.

Local Pols Brake for Coney Island Landlords [The Observer]
Freaks: Bloomy saved Coney [The Brooklyn Paper]
Bloomberg unveils Coney Island plan [Crain's New York]

You can follow the discussion in the following threads posted by MuscleMonster13 on the CIUSA board:
Recchia mentions lawsuits in the Brooklyn Paper
Bay News Cover - Denos Gargiulos sound alarm
NY Observer - Loc Pols brake for CI Landlords
Crains Ny on Thor's land

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Omar - Nice 4 links. Every one of them mine.