Thursday, February 14, 2008

Public Scoping Meeting Report

Yesterday evening's public scoping meeting at Lincoln High School was a fairly orderly and tame affair. This wasn't too surprising- considering that the meeting was devoted to specific responses to a specific document (the Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS)– but was still a departure from the emotion and boisterousness of other meetings that the Coney Island Development Corporation has held over the past several months.

Basically, the scoping meeting was a chance for the community to respond to the initial draft of the EIS, which has been available to the public for a month. The EIS is a detailed report on the full scope of the impact of the city's plan for Coney Island, in terms of factors such as general infrastructure (Police, Fire Department, sewers, etc.), impact to the natural environment, transportation, and things such as noise and shadows.

There were a wide variety of comments from the public on the EIS draft. A couple of prominent local businessmen expressed concern over how the new zoning would affect their specific properties, and a lawyer representing Thor Equities backhandedly opposed the whole plan. David Gratt and Dick Zigun of Coney Island USA both lauded the plan, but took exception to the lack of protections for historical sites, as well as to the fact that much of the retail area would not be zoned for entertainment retail (meaning stores would be ok, but things like theaters would not). One of the main concerns expressed by the many residents, activists, and experts who spoke was that the city had not properly taken into account the amount of parking and increased public transportation that would be necessary to accommodate the many visitors the revamped amusement area would draw. Other major concerns were that the city was not providing enough employment opportunities for the city's current residents, or enough adequate housing options to accommodate the area's low to middle income residents.

The dominant feeling of the crowd seemed to be summed up by Zigun, who said that the city's general plan was great, but that "the devil is in the details."

- post by Ben Nadler

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