Op-ed: City should return entire boardwalk revenue directly to the neglected areas of Coney Island

A look out at the historic Riegelmann Boardwalk. Locals are hoping the city will consider investing its lease revenue back into the Coney Island community.
Mark J Wolodarsky

Drug addiction, gun violence, mental health issues, and lack of jobs have been plaguing the west end of Coney Island since the 1950s. However, it’s worse now than it’s been in decades.

A few weeks ago a desperate mother killed her children on the beach. Everyday we’re hearing about drug overdoses and gun violence. To some people, helping those in your community is not a revolutionary concept. The perfect opportunity for the City of New York, as the boardwalk leases are up for renewal, is to help those in desperate need by giving all of the revenue generated directly to services in low income areas. The revenue can be channeled back to the nonprofits that work hard to serve the needs of the community. Borough President Antonio Reynoso can play a key part in making that happen.

Although I have been heckled by major stakeholders in the community for coming up with the idea of helping those in desperate need that reside in the west end of Coney Island, my beliefs will not be wavered. Why do the major stakeholders in the amusement district aggressively oppose my proposition? Absolutely nothing will be taken away from any of them or the boardwalk businesses in my proposal. On the other hand, the low income west end of Coney Island will deservingly have much more to gain from this opportunity.

So I firmly stand by my proposal that all revenue raised by the City in their proposed lease extension plan be returned to the Coney Island community directly in the form of supplementary programs and projects to address the neighborhood’s social, economic and environmental challenges. Who else would publicly oppose my proposition? Why?

If we really want to help the Coney Island community, we should advocate for the city to do more to help them and not let an opportunity like this pass us by. If we don’t, the new lease terms will keep us waiting until 2037 to revisit this conversation again.

Michael Quinn is a Coney Island native and the current owner of Feltman’s Hot Dogs.