The city wants to spend $2 million to illuminate Coney Island’s iconic Parachute Jump, but some residents say they would rather see the money used to keep the lights on in communities left powerless by Hurricane Sandy.
“This is like buying a Cadillac when you can’t afford a bicycle,” former Community Board 13 member Todd Dobrin said about the city’s Parks Department’s decision to add more bling to the 73-year-old landmark.
Dobrin said the money Borough President Markowitz allocated to the project would be better used to restore library, police, postal, and other services in Coney Island, Seagate, Brighton Beach, and Manhattan Beach — a move some meeting attendees cheered.
“How in good conscience can money be put into something that is very attractive and would be a tourist draw, when we’re going to get clobbered here?” said Brighton Beach activist Ida Sanoff.
CB 13’s Parks and Recreation disagreed with Dobrin and Sanoff, voting in favor of allowing Luna Park owner Central Amusements International to oversee the light installation.
Since the summer, Central Amusements has been promoting its plan to spark up the Parachute Jump, winning over Coney stakeholders with a video showing how they plan to illuminate the ride with dancing LED lights synchronized with the brilliant beams of its Scream Zone.
Markowitz called for the ride to be returned to its glimmering glory in his February State of the Borough address, vowing an inter-galactic shimmer-fest would be underway before he leaves office next year.
“We’ll relight the Parachute Jump with enough bling so it can be seen from outer space,” he said.
Opponents to the plan said board approval was inevitable since its members were handpicked by Markowitz, Councilmen Domenic Recchia (D–Coney Island) and Mike Nelson (D–Brighton Beach).
“The people who appointed them want them to pass it,” said Brighton Beach resident Arlene Brenner. “I resent $2 million being spent on lights when there is so much need in the community.”
Yet committee members stuck to their guns.
“This is about making Coney Island beautiful,” said committee co-chairwoman Barbara Teitelbaum. “I’m not being paid here.”
Others said the money Markowitz earmarked for the project probably can’t be used for anything else.
“If you took it away from the project, you’d never see that money,” said board member Marty Levine.