Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Coney Island's Future...Prognosis Negative

Today marks another fatal day in Coney Island's timeline. The city, once again, gives Coney another devastating blow to its existence.

As they have done in the past, the city has either aided developers and politicians into severly debilitating Coney's thriving uniqueness and allowing it to die every time a bit more. From killing off sections of it to fill with low-income housing with eye-sore architecture, to having no respect for iconic structures, to changing it only to emulate every-where-else America with corporate retail-style entertainment and mall-like amusements.

Today, the New York City Council will either kill or not kill Coney Island by voting in favor of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan, which originally, seemed like the best plan for protecting Coney Island's amusements and its future, but has later been added with a major flaw. Prosed high-rises south of Surf Avenue which would shrink the open-air amusements in Coney to a mere strip of 9 to 12 acres along the boardwalk is not right for Coney Island.

The plan's flaw, which has been argued and rallied against by Coney activists, has gone ignored by city officials without remorse.

The plan calls for four large hotels that simply don't make sense. The hotels in the plan look like a ploy for something else. As city councilman and Mayoral candidate Tony Avella recently pointed out in an interview with Brian Lehrer, calling this part of the plan a, "house of cards." And it just as well may be that. Who in their right mind will expect large hotels to be needed for a small amusement area. How feasible is it that a hotel corporation is going to build a high-rise hotel here? Before any analysis is done they simply will not commit. The city is not in going to build it themselves are they?

It's true that the new Coney Island should be year-round and not only be consisted of open-air amusements. And it does make sense for Surf Avenue to be a main thoroughfare with buildings on both sides. But those buildings should not be high-rises. They should be no more than four to five stories high. A couple of boutique hotels and bed-and-breakfast suites with plenty of themed flavor sounds like a much better fit. And of course, bustling with everything else Coney has always offered in the past and more.

City officials throw around the words 'indoor amusements' and then only give us bowling alleys, movie theaters, and an indoor water park. There are plenty of rides and attractions that could be uniquely created for Coney Island that would suit the place much better than things you get around town anywhere else.

The city needs to keep in mind Coney Island's criteria. One that has been lost along the way many years ago. Coney Island is not just carnival attractions brought in from elsewhere. When Coney really thrived it was unique. You didn't find these things anywhere else. Coney requires dreamers. The city needs to protect the space and have others with creative thinking caps come in and devise the plan. The city is not equipped for doing this. This is like asking lawyers to get on stage and do Shakespeare. Sure in Coney's glory business men created those parks but they came to Coney with their dreams and imagination in front of their business mentality.

The plan is voted on this afternoon. But let's not worry about it. The city's flaw in their plan will not be executed. There are too many obstacles in front of them and the flaw itself will create the stumbling block in the plan having it buckle under itself, the way it stands. With our economy still in a hole, the city will find themselves yet again modifying their plan. The city still faces a challenge with Thor Equities who owns at least half of what the city needs to accomplish their plan.

The city has also to be clearer on what their interim plan is while their master plan or changes in this master plan take place, in the next few years. They also need to deal with Thor Equities and put a stop to his bad amusement decision making. Inflatables, active empty lots like his flea market, and late season starters, are not right for Coney. He has already admitted to leaving for the right price which proves that he still is the speculator and cut-and-run-with-a-profit, leaving-your-smoke-and-mirrors-behind kind of man.

With a plan that will not work, how is it going to help the residents of Coney Island? The local residents and the labor movements need to also see through this flaw.

And last but not least, the city needs to start doing what is right for the people and not what is right for Bloomberg's third term and legacy. The house of cards needs to be kicked down and rebuilt with what's right for Coney.

No comments: