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Coney reopens! Big whoop

The Brooklyn Paper
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The shrinking amusement area of Coney Island reopened on Sunday, but it’s going to be weeks before Coney Island shows signs of life.

Even as the Cyclone roller coaster made its first run, across the street, the site of the former Astroland theme park was empty. And nearby, sections of the Boardwalk remain ripped up for renovations — a fitting symbol for a strip where many of the honky-tonk merchants and old-man bars like Ruby’s remain closed.

Even Totonno’s, the legendary Neptune Avenue pizzeria, remains shuttered until its owners repair damage from a fire last month.

The carny carnage has been exacerbated by the struggle between the city and the area’s principal landowner Joe Sitt for control of the area’s destiny. The city wants to create a new city-owned amusement park complimented by hotels, attractions and restaurants, but has been haggling with 10-1/2 acres of land from Sitt’s company, Thor Equities.

Sitt, at times, has said he wanted to build his own tourist Xanadu on the sandy peninsula. Last week, the city offered Sitt $105 million for his land, but the New York Observer reported on Friday that he’s asked for $160 million.

Sitt promises to deliver some temporary help — in a few weeks. His company, which owns the land where Astroland stood on West 12th Street and many of the storefronts along the Boardwalk and Surf Avenue, announced last week that he’s booked 25 rides and carnival attractions to fill the void left by Astroland.

Borough President Markowitz, on hand for the Cyclone reopening, told The Brooklyn Paper that Sitt’s interim attractions — called “Dreamland Park” like the legendary early 20th-century amusement park — emboldened him to predict a bustling, lively summer in Coney Island.

“The Astroland lot is not going to be empty,” Markowitz said, taking a page from the greatest carnival promoters from Coney’s illustrious history. “Coney Island is open, and bigger and better than ever.”

Few visitors agreed with Markowitz’s P.T. Barnum-like ballyhoo.

“I was confused about what was open,” said Nell Hanlon of Park Slope while she waited for a whirl on the Cyclone. “It’s smaller than last year, like you could spend half a day here [and do everything].”

Even at Deno’s, the atmosphere felt like Davy Crockett at the Alamo.

“We’re the only amusement park left,” lamented Dennis Vourdaris, the owner of the neighborhood’s last fun yard. “But we’re hanging tough for the community and the city.”

Updated 4:25 pm, April 9, 2009: Story was updated for rejiggering.
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Reader Feedback

shmaryahyu from coney island says:
I LIVE IN CONEY ISLAND 70 YEARS, AND THE TIME IS OVER FOR THE SITT NYC JOKES TO END AND GET BACK TO BEING THE BEST AND FINEST AMUSEMENT AREA ON THE EAST COST OF THE USA...THAT IS NOT A DISNEYLAND.
April 6, 2009, 5:14 pm
Phony Island from Brooklyn says:
Markowitz didn't ride the Cyclone? What a fraud. His Mr. Brooklyn schtick is beyond tired, and thanks to Bloomberg and the City Council's 29 dwarves, we can look forward to four more years of it.

Yuck.
April 6, 2009, 6:44 pm
Bruce from Coney Island says:
How much does Sitt pay the Brooklyn Paper to hide the true facts from the readers of this no paper excuse for a news website?

Blast Sitt for what is happening, because he is the new O'Malley. Over 50 years ago Walter O'Malley became a curse word here in Brooklyn when he moved the beloved Dodgers to the west coast. His name is still cursed over 50 years later.

While O'Malley broke the hearts of Brooklyn only. There were over 20 other major league ball clubs that people supported.

Joe Sitt is destorying piece by piece something unique not only to the city, but to the world, for Coney Island is world famous.

I proclaim a new curse word for the ages.... Sitt. A name his children and his children's children will suffer with.
April 6, 2009, 11:57 pm
Bruce from Coney Island says:
Why dont you investigate Sitt and his actions here.

He got Department of Buildings approval to take apart the Water Flume, he posted those signs, like he should. But he started to remove it weeks before he had permission to do so.

He is currently taking apart the building that housed Dante's Inferno, but there is no displayed paperwork saying he can do so.

Sitt may... repeat may bring amusements to the land he owns, but remember what his mouth piece says of Sitt's intentions here in Coney Island, amusement rides are not economically feasible, yet they existed here in Coney Island for over 100 years without the benefit of other sources of income helping them operational.

But these are the stories that no one is willing to say.
April 7, 2009, 12:03 am
jerry from coney island says:
Mr. Sitt does his summers in Deal, NJ with his family & friends. Mr. Sitt's friend & Councilman Mr. Recchia does his summers in Southampton NY on Peconic Bay with his family & friends. They ARE NOT STAKEHOLDERS of the Coney Island Community & they will never be STAKEHOLDERS.(They really don't give a sh%t about Coney Island.) If the City could claim eminent domain at Atlantic Yards for Ratner, then why doesn't the city claim eminent domain for Sitt's properties if he doesn't move on a deal?
April 7, 2009, 6:41 pm
Joe Slitt from Bensonhurst says:
I am smart!

I was getting rent from Astroland.

I made Astroland go away even though everyone loved it.

I am now going to rent rides.

Instead of collecting rent I am going to have to spend spend spend to put cheaper rides into the same spot.

I am smart!

Joe Slitt
April 8, 2009, 12:49 am
jake from brooklyn says:
cool i am going there for easter yheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee boy
April 4, 2010, 1:34 am

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