Saturday, December 27, 2008

Coney Island- Grinch Story

Developer Joe Sitt sure seems truly certain that the Bloomberg administration has a pot of gold for him at the end of a rezoning rainbow if he totally annihilates Coney Island. We refer you to Rich Calder’s Christmas Day New York Post Story, The Grinch Who Stole Coney Is.: Christmas Eve Lockout. It sounds as if Mr. Sitt is hacking away machete-style to destroy every inch of Coney Island amusement area he can colorably claim he has the right to through his unfortunate ownership. It doesn’t make sense for him to be destroying the zoning compliant amusement uses of these areas unless he is confident that the Bloomberg administration will accommodate him (or those who subsequently purchase from him which is the likely plan) with a coup de grace rezoning once the dastardly deed is done.

You can’t argue over the results. The destruction of Coney Island can clearly be laid at the Bloomberg administration’s doorstep. Is it, as can be so readily suspected, the result of policies intended toward this result? If not, it is the result of abjectly failing policies that are nearly as bad. (Here is some Noticing New York reading on the subject of Coney: Wednesday, November 5, 2008, Back In the Coney Island Saddle? Saturday, October 4, 2008, “Sitt”ing Not So Pretty and Monday, November 17, 2008, The Coney Island Crowd: Plans Unveiled Tonight.)

And once destroyed will anything replace our Coney? It is a bad economy. That which gets destroyed does not necessarily get replaced. How many areas of the city that resiliently survived for generations through good times and bad must be destroyed under Bloomberg to be replaced, if at all, perhaps only decades hence? We’ve seen the destruction of thriving parts of Prospect Heights including the landmark Ward Bakery. It might be replaced in 30 years. Columbia University has been given the tool of eminent domain to blight West Harlem and hold it for slow development over decades. Willets Point is may also be wiped out with eminent domain and again, who knows if it will be replaced in 30 years.

Keep alert. If you go to Coney Island this New Year's Day the Polar Bear Club will be taking their annual swim. Expect also to see people who are gathering because they don’t want Coney Island’s future taken away from us. It seems as if plans are taking shape. They should be gathering at the gates of Astroland, another amusement calculatedly put asunder by Mr. Sitt.

Go. Go to Coney Island this New Year's Day. You even have an excuse: Coney this year it is Reuter’s top pick of all the places in the world to usher in the New Year. See: Travel Picks: Top 10 places to usher in the New Year, Fri Dec 26, 2008. Maybe Reverend Billy will be there and maybe the Whos will be making a joyous sound the Grinch will hear from his mountaintop.

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