Today’s news:

This time, Joe Sitt has screwed up

The Brooklyn Paper

In Coney Island’s long and infamous history — complete with suspicious fires, shysters, and midnight tear-downs — little compares to what the increasingly infamous Joe Sitt did last week.

Sitt, you’ll recall, is the man who started buying up land in the faded “People’s Playground” a few years ago and successfully consolidated quite a nice bit of Boardwalk-side property.

He said he wanted to build a 24-7, Vegas-style theme park that would include all-year rides, attractions, hotels, shops and, yes, new amusements. If it happened the way Sitt promised, Coney would indeed be a better place — and we said so in many editorials.

But over time, it has become clear that Sitt’s only goal in Coney Island was to make a killing on his property by forcing the city’s hand and then getting a buyout from Mayor Bloomberg, who said that Sitt was merely a land speculator who had no intention of building a new Coney Island Xanadu in the spirit of the old Luna Park and Dreamland.

Apparently, the mayor was right along along. Sitt is clearly no Barnum-like mirth-maker, no Disney-esque family entertainer. It’s unclear if he could even run a kiddie park properly.

Last summer, for example, Sitt promised rides and attractions on his land — but the amusements were paltry, and they didn’t even last the entire season.

Then, on the eve of Christmas, he locked out some of his Boardwalk tenants — including one who had the nerve to criticize him publicly. Then, he refused to grant Astroland a one-year lease extension that would have allowed the historic, Space Age theme park to continue operating and giving a modicum of life along the Boardwalk.

Instead, Sitt promised a summer festival that included an amusement park run by longtime Coney player Anthony Raffaele. That festival got off to a slow start and never became a true tourist attraction, but at least it provided rides and games and other odes to Coney’s vital history as a place for summer fun.

But last week, with several key weeks still left in the summer, Sitt locked out the amusement operators, citing a fairly minor rent dispute with Raffaele that could have easily been settled in a few weeks, after the crowds of bumber-car-riding kids had gone back to school.

Instead, Sitt now has acres and acres of vacant land that are doing nothing for anybody. Meanwhile, the mayor is close to buying a large part of Sitt’s land for about $100 million — tens of millions more than the speculator paid for it just a few years ago.

Apparently, that’s all Joe Sitt wanted. But for the rest of us, it’s another lost summer at Coney Island. That’s Joe Sitt’s fault. Again.

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Reader Feedback

Bruce from Coney Island says:
Finally saw the light? We have been telling you this for years.

Sitt, the New O'Malley.
Aug. 27, 2009, 8:42 pm
Publius from Bklyn Hghts says:
The so-called Brooklyn Paper has a history of changing its mind on editorial opinion. The editorial board is a pathetic joke, and quite harmful to Brooklyn.
Aug. 28, 2009, 12:01 am
joe from coney island says:
What the Brooklyn Paper has left out , very conveniently by the way, it that our Councilman Domenic Recchia, is also a main factor in screwing the public & Coney Island lovers of their beloved Coney Island Amusements. Recchia is Joe Siott's friend. Recchia did not help in trying to keep Astroland open for this season, by talking to Sitt in reducing the rent for the Alberts. At least they knew how to run an amusement area. The only thing Recchia did was to back his friend Sitt in devasting the area with empty lots. Keep up the great job Dom! The truth is, Joe Sitt vacations in Deal . N.J. and Recchia vacations in Southampton, Long Island on a waterfront mini mansion on Peconic Bay. We are the little people who only can afford Coney Island and they screwed us.
Aug. 28, 2009, 2:47 pm

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