Deal on Coney Island
July 21st, 2009
The City Council’s committees on zoning and land use both approved the redevelopment plan for Coney Island this afternoon, including revisions that take the property surrounding the Wonder Wheel out of an established parkland area.
The deal, which was brokered between the Bloomberg administration and the area’s Councilmember Domenic Recchia, would also include a pedestrian walkway along Wonder Wheel Way.
The plan was approved by the zoning committee by a vote of 5 to 1, with chairman Tony Avella dissenting. It was approved by a vote of 13 to 2 in the land use committee, with Avella and Charles Barron dissenting.
Up until yesterday, Recchia’s support was not guaranteed. In a press release in full after the jump, Recchia explains why he changed his mind this afternoon, saying he can support the deal because it includes money for Coney Island Hospital and it would create local jobs.
It is unclear how this deal would affect Coney Island developer Joseph Sitt. Sitt owns at least five acres the city would like to acquire for its plan.
What is clear is that not everyone will be happy with the deal. Save Coney Island, a coalition that was lobbying for changes in the development plan, wanted the amount of amusement space in the plan doubled and wanted to do away with the high-rise hotels planned for Surf Avenue. Neither of those concessions were included in this deal.
Here is Recchia’s full press release:
STATEMENT FROM COUNCILMAN DOMENIC M. RECCHIA, JR. ON TODAY’S LAND USE COMMITTEE VOTE
I am pleased to announce that, with my support, the Land Use Committee passed a broad, sweeping and ambitious rezoning plan that will reshape Coney Island and return the iconic neighborhood to the prestige of its past.
Coney Island today lacks year-round jobs and necessary infrastructure. It has limited amusements and properties that have fallen fallow. This project is as an opportunity to provide necessary amenities to the 50,000 people who call Coney Island home, including year-round jobs paying livable wages and affordable housing, as well as improvements to the amusement and entertainment areas for the millions who visit Coney Island.
One of my goals in this project was to make sure that those who had stayed in the community and invested during the tough times were respected in any plan that went forward. I am happy to report that the owners of the Wonder Wheel are supportive of the project. The owners of Gargiulo’s have also had input into the redevelopment, and are pleased about their continued future in Coney Island. I have had countless discussions with all of the stakeholders, and listened to hours of testimony at public hearings both here and in Coney Island.
I would like to have been able to expand the area available for open amusements, and I have been actively discussing this with the administration. Those discussions have been fruitful and are ongoing. I hope that by the time the entire City Council votes on this plan, on July 29th, I will have great news for everyone. But I am confident that this project, as it currently stands, is good for the city, good for Brooklyn and great for Coney Island.
Similarly, I know that there are those who would like to see lower buildings on the south side of Surf Avenue. We just couldn’t make this work and will be moving forward with project that you see today.
The trade off has been worth it: We’re getting a first-class amusement park, the long-awaited new gym for P.S. 188, infrastructure work to improve the bad drainage and sewer problems that have plagued the peninsula, a new skating rink in Coney Island that will continue to serve the hockey leagues as well as local residents and their families, new affordable housing opportunities including exciting home ownership opportunities along with funds to assist in mortgage down payments, and funds for the renovation of the Boardwalk and Dreier-Offerman Park.
The administration has made commitments to encourage local hiring, to provide training for local residents in the food service and hospitality industries, and long-term strategies to help address the high rates of unemployment in the community. With all of these new visitors to Coney Island, it is important that we have a first class trauma and emergency room to handle any emergencies. The administration is committed to upgrading and modernizing the facilities at Coney Island Hospital to handle the capacities of the current and future residents and visitors.
As I’ve said all along, it’s impossible to make everyone 100 percent happy. This plan accomplishes the goal of making everyone happy enough that we can move forward together toward a revitalized Coney Island. I would like to thank my colleagues for voting in favor of this plan. By doing so, we take the first steps toward restoring the glamour, the glory and the greatness of Coney Island.By Courtney Gross on July 21, 2009, 3:01 pm
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