A state senator who opposes Mayor Bloomberg’s Coney Island redevelopment plan claimed victory at the first public hearing on the proposal Monday night, boasting that he shut down the meeting by bussing in hundreds of people to the event.
“Score one for the good guys,” state Sen. Carl Kruger (D–Bensonhurst) shouted to his supporters after the Coney Island Development Corporation hastily canceled the meeting.
“You made a point tonight, and that is that Bloomberg isn’t going to push his Manhattan plans on Brooklyn without hearing from Brighton Beach, Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay.”
More than 150 people — who learned of the meeting through a CDICâ€ˆe-mail blast — had RSVP’d to attend the meeting at Coney Island Hospital, where officials planned to show off Bloomberg’s master plan for Coney Island. A notice to the general public was not distributed, but Kruger’s staff spread the word and bussed in another 400 people.
CDIC President Lynn Kelly said she was “disappointed” that “the true members of the community” didn’t get to hear the briefing. She blamed the cancellation on “busloads of unknown people [who] showed up unexpectedly.”
It was unexpected only to Kelly. A Kruger staffer boasted that the senator brought hundreds of people from Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Sheepshead Bay and Gravesend to storm the meeting. Many of them were senior citizens who donned brightly colored caps printed by the senator’s office that read, “The Bloomberg Plan: How much $? How long? Who pays?”
Kruger, who was later joined in protest by Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Coney Island), said the CIDC intentionally chose too small a venue.
“Instead of finding a location that could accommodate everyone who wanted to attend this public meeting, they cancelled it,” he said.
Recchia showed off a pre-printed flyer that the CIDC started distributing even before the hoardes descended — evidence, he said, that the city never intended to let opponents have their say.
Kelly denied the allegation.
In the end, Kruger claimed that he hadn’t planned on shutting down the meeting.
“We brought people from the community to open the meeting up,” Kruger told The Brooklyn Paper. “Not to shut it down.”
But he does intend to block the mayor’s plan, parts of which would need state approval.
Under the plan laid out by Bloomberg on Nov. 8, the city would first have to buy out developer Joe Sitt, who has spent somewhere between $100 and $200 million to buy land in Coney’s amusement zone, before rezoning the area as parkland and bringing in an outside theme park operator to develop an all-year attraction similar to what Sitt wanted to build.
Kruger complained that the mayor has not yet put a pricetag on his plan. Sitt was planning to spend $1.5 billion on his Vegas-style Xanadu.