through our friends atSaveConeyIsland.netwe've learned that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already had closed door meetings with the six City Council members of the "Committee on Land Use" to gain their approval for his rezoning plans of Coney Island.
Basically, Bloomberg's Coney vision follows the rules of all of his real estate plans over the past 8 years. Rezone, and later, collect real estate tax dollars off of new, high rise, luxury condos and hotels.
The one stumbling block, buying out Joe Sitt of Thor Equities who's vision for Coney Island is almost identical to Bloomberg's. Sitt too wants rezoning so that he too can build condos and hotels over where amusements once stood. While Sitt is only looking to preserve 6.5 acres for amusements, Bloomberg promises to save 9-12 acres. Both numbers are rather pathetic considering that as of right now 61 acres on Coney Island are zoned for amusements and that at one time Coney Island was home to over 100 acres of amusements.
That said, most of Coney's current 61 acres sits vacant. Land lost to previous development schemes which never came.
To be fair, this summer features fewer vacant lots than in previous years. Not shown in the photo to the left, one taken during the spring, is a city of tents which Bloomberg built behind the ballpark's parking lot. Those tents are currently there to house a temporary summer circus.
The other tents, the ones shown in the photo, belong to Joe Sitt who knocked down Astroland (The Cyclone is a landmark which can't be touched while the Wonder Wheel, also a landmark which can't be touched is still owned by the Vourderis family) and replaced Coney Island's last major amusement park with a flea market.
Sadly, we'd even take the temporary tents to the highrise condos and hotels which Bloomberg and Sitt both support. Highrises are not temporary. Once they go up they'll stay up. If anything, they'll be the first step to ridding Coney (landmarks aside) of all amusements.
What can be done to stop this? Well, that's where the people come in!
BrooklynAtlantic is asking for two favors from the people so that the People's Playground can be preserved from the hands of both Bloomberg and Sitt:
1) We're hoping that citizens of New York City can call their local City Council members and tell them to oppose the rezoning of Coney Island.
2) We're hoping that each New Yorker who calls can also tell 3 friends to do the same, and ask them to tell 3 friends, and allow the cycle to grow.
The entire City Council will be voting on Coney Island's rezoning this Wednesday, July 29th, 2009.
With no more delays, this is it. Astroland (having been replaced w/a giant flea market) is already gone, so this is the final chance to ask Bloomberg to come up with a new plan. Fortunately, there is another plan out there. An alternative to both Bloomberg and Sitt. The Municipal Art Society put together a plan (one endorsed by the NY Times) which would save between 25-27 acres for rides while still offering the high rises (but around the amusement area) that both Sitt and Bloomberg want.
For anyone reading this who has never called a politician before, we promise that the procedure is quite painless. The process will involve simply leaving a voice mail (we're hoping that voice mail says that you support the MAS plan and not one which puts highrises directly inside the amusement district) or talking to a helpful staffer.
These staffers are paid to be friendly. They won't, for instance, try arguing with you on Bloomberg's plan. Instead, they'll simply jot down your name, phone number, message and pass it along. They do this to simply gage where public support is. They all want to be liked enough by their local constituents to get re-elected, so again, your call will only involve them listening. They won't call back or later hassle you with other political positions. It's a simple process for an incredible cause. Do call and do your part to save the People's Playground.
Remember, once rezoning goes though, the Coney Island of the past 130+ years will be forever gone.*
UPDATE - July 29th, 2009: It's with great disappointment that we report the City Council's near unanimous vote to rezone Coney Island. Only Tony Avella of Whitestone, Queens, and Charles Baron of East New York Brooklyn, voted against. Rosie Mendez of the Lower East Side, Manhattan, voiced objections before abstaining from the vote. To their credit, these three also voted against the October Putsch. 44 Councilors (including ALL 29 who self-servingly voted for extending term limits) voted in favor. To our dismay, "progressives" like John Liu and Eric Gioia also voted with Bloomberg. To our flat out shock, so did Letitia James, lead advocate against Bruce Ratner's Vanderbilt Yards project.