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More Coney baloney

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Why is the Bloomberg Administration going into the amusement park business?

We have asked this question repeatedly as we watched — with anything but amusement — the mayor block Coney Island’s main landowner in his efforts to spend $2 billion to turn the faded ocean-front paradise into a glitzy, Vegas-style Xanadu.

We’ve expressed concern that the mayor was allowing his personal animosity for developer Joe Sitt to hinder the redevelopment of Coney Island, but that concern now turns to horror as the actual cost of Bloomberg’s pettiness becomes clearer.

This week, the city moved to buy the landowner’s Coney holdings at a cost of hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars.

The Bloomberg Administration wants the land in order to realize its own vision for the future of Coney Island — a plan that includes many of the same elements (new rides, new attractions, a hotel) that Sitt himself proposed.

But in a time when subway lines are being slashed, a fare hike is pending and the state is planning to raise funds with dubious East River bridge tolls, we ask again: why would the city spend close to $200 million to buy Sitt’s land when Sitt’s basic plan for Coney Island is so similar to what the city says it wants?

City officials say that buying out Sitt is the only way to give the Bloomberg Administration what it needs to save Coney Island, namely control of the land itself.

But that is a myth: the city already has control of the land that Sitt owns because that land is currently zoned only for amusement-related uses.

In other words, no matter how much land he owns, Sitt can’t do anything except build an amusement park without a zoning change.

So the city doesn’t need to buy out Sitt — it just needs to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to whatever elements of his plan would veer from existing amusement zoning.

Instead, the city proposes to buy all the land and run the place itself.

That kind of top-down master planning is simply foolish, especially in tough economic times, when the city will be under great pressure from taxpayers to keep the streets safe, the subways operating properly, and provide basic city services — and do so without raising taxes — rather than spend hundreds of millions on Bloomberg’s Coney baloney.

If Brooklyn’s renaissance reminds us of anything, it’s that this borough does best when City Hall gets out of the way. Look at Fourth Avenue in Park Slope, the Flatbush Avenue corridor in Downtown or the Williamsburg-Greenpoint waterfront; in all three cases, neighborhoods are booming with new housing, new businesses and new excitement all because the city tweaked outmoded zoning and let the private sector and market forces take over.

The cost was minimal, but the benefit to those neighborhoods is incalculable.

The city controls the zoning in Coney Island. It doesn’t need to buy Sitt’s land. It only needs to enforce its amusement-only zoning, tweak it where needed and then get out of the way as Coney blooms anew.

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Reader Feedback

Pat from Bay Ridge says:
I agree 100%. The last thing New York City needs is another government-operated mega-project. It's just another symptom of Bloomberg's out-of-control megalomania. He couldn't command a huge project on the west side of Manhattan so now he wants his own little empire at Coney Island. Hopefully if we give him the boot that he so richly deserves at the next election after the shenanigans he pulled to give himself a third term, this particular folly can be averted.
Nov. 21, 2008, 12:03 am
Bruce from Coney Island says:
get your facts straight. The only reason we didnt have a west side stadium, was Cablevision pulled Sheldon Silvers strings and he killed the project.

The Brooklyn Paper, if it can be called a paper is full of garbage in its facts. Joe Sitt promised to build nothing but condos, hotels and plain retail.

Coney Island means amusements, Joe Sitt sees it like Fred Trump did, a great place for condos to make money.

Coney Island is for the citizens of the world, at least the city wants to keep it that way.

Sitt would never build amusements, since Sitt said amusements dont make money. If anyone thinks otherwise, they can spend money on buying controlling interest in the Brooklyn Bridge.
Nov. 21, 2008, 2:25 am
J Bird from Gravesend says:
Here is the problem. Sittboy wanted to get the right to build condos in the amusement area, no doubt about it. He said he wanted to build amusements and that there would be a small residential component to build those amusements. But then he releases his plans and there is like two rides and everything else is buildings for condos. We had to twist his arm just to get him to a plan where Astroland would still have rides while the entire rest of Coney would be residential, but even there he starts saying —— like the amusements at Astroland could be on the ground floor of a time share/hotel building. All this guy is interested in is condos condos condos. We alkready had rides there so I do not see why all of a sudden we need condos to pay for less rides.
Nov. 21, 2008, 3:21 am
Pat from Bay Ridge says:
Do you dispute the fact that his land is not currently zoned for condos and hotels? And if we buy it, what makes you think the city won't rezone it to build its own condos and hotels?
Nov. 21, 2008, 9:49 am
Kim from Coney says:
If the Bloomberg Administration doesn't go into the Amusement Park Business, there will be no Amusement Park Business left in Coney Island or NYC. This is the ONLY district currently zoned for amusements in NYC. Hello? Where was all the public and media outcry when the city went into the $ports $tadium business?

We should not forget that there is a taxpayer funded baseball stadium in Coney Island where amusements once operated...
Nov. 21, 2008, 10:15 am
Mango from Park Slope says:
Once again, the Brooklyn Papers has misinformed the public by stating that the two plans are the same. It's not accurate. The whole point of the City getting involved is that Joe Sitt is not interested in historic preservation. Not all developers have the expertise nor the interest in doing this kind of work. Joe Sitt has proven that he is not interested in historic preservation as evidenced by his willingness last year to state he would demolish the oldest building in the area. Now that the city has control, they can get qualified developers who will do what the public wants, not what Joe Sitt's shareholders want. THis is no ordinary pice of land. Historic preservation must be at the top of the list. WHen the right developers are found, the city will then sell the properties, and make back all the money it spent to get control in the first place. Joe Sitt was never going to do what the public wants. THe place would have remained empty for years, just like the batting cage and go cart area has. Now, we can move forward with the city's original master plan, which was light years ahead of (and different from) Thor's. If you think the plan was the same, then explain why Dick Zigun and numerous other public interest groups supported the City' plan but not Joe Sitt's. Why did Zigun leave the CIDC if both plans were the same?
Nov. 21, 2008, 10:36 am
Missy from Coney says:
yes, and Giuliani's pet project, the taxpayer funded baseball stadium in Coney Island where amusements once operated, is seasonal. It does nothing to make Coney a year round entertainment destination as Bloomberg and the CIDC plan to do. I'm happy to use taxpayer dollars and contribute extra to make Coney Island a world class amusement destination.

Coney Island fans everywhere say good riddance to Joe Sitt who wanted $100 million in subsidies from the city to build, but of course he would never build. He was waiting to flip the property after it was rezoned for high rise condos timeshares or hotels. Just like he did at Albee Square Mall
Nov. 21, 2008, 11:06 am
Pat from Bay Ridge says:
I have no problem with the city designating it a historic area and requiring preservation. I have a major problem with the city *owning* the land or worse, operating anything placed on it. I also have a major problem with subsidizing any profit-making venture.
Nov. 21, 2008, 11:37 am
m.a.cluny from sunset park says:
Being a lifelong brooklyn resident(63years)and cheerleader,I'm eternally grateful to the Brooklyn Papers for the coverage of the fiasco that is Atlantic Yards. The outrageous promise
of tax dollars to subsidize this 'edifice complex' and the ongoing clearance of parcels(are they supposed to be doing this with all the legal stuff still in the hopper?) seems to have some sort of life of its own. The attitude of Napoleon Bloomberg and staffers seems to reflect this'billionaire knows best' approach to life in the outer boros. Of course
that is roaringly obvious; look what he's doing for Queens(does Napoleon have a clue as to how to get there?) where flooding streets and poor services have been part of life. Read the current Village Voice article by Wayne Barrett
(Nov 19-26) for a look at the empleomanic we have hired.
Nov. 21, 2008, 11:44 am
Bruce from Coney Island says:
Before everyone trashes Mayor Bloomberg and his actions here in Coney, he used his own money to purchase for the city the B&B Carousell. His heart is in the right place.
Nov. 21, 2008, 12:31 pm
Rapid T. Rabbit from Corona says:
Coney Island doesn't need Xanadu...if you want Xanadu, go across the Hudson River to the Meadowlands.

What Coney needs is Steeplechase, Luna Dreamland, Deno's, Astroland and whatever kind of venue that befits its history and tradition.
Nov. 21, 2008, 5:50 pm
Dominic Rechhia from Bensonhurst says:
Please do no vilify the one person who has against all odds been trying to rescue Coney Island. My friend Joseph Sitt has gambled his fortune on Coney Island because he believes that with his help it will return to the world class resort it once was. The problem is that their is a vocal minority of ride enthusiasts who can't understand that the days of old time amusement parks has past. In this day and age open air urban amusement parks simply just do not make money. As much as I loved Astroland and was sad that Carol Albert decided to close it I can not ignore the truth that it was losing money for the Albert family. Todays generation is just not interested in mechanical amusements any more.

What Coney Island needs is a face-lift. It needs the sort of entertainment that todays generation is interested in. It needs to be a Coney island for the 20th century. That is why I am announcing my gay wedding to Joe Sitt next week. This is because I believe that it is only fair to be married to the bottom I kiss every day.
Nov. 21, 2008, 6:25 pm
George from Brooklyn says:
thank god i dont pay for the brooklyn paper, cause if i did, i would cancel and demand my money back.

I cant beleive the idiots they pay to write this garbage. How out of touch are you?

I never thought there was something worst then the Post, congrats BP, you just climbed the mighty mountain to become the worst excuse for a newspaper there ever was.

The person too scared to assocaite their name with this garbage should be sentenced to 10 years of Lou Grant reruns to learn something about reporting the facts, not some glazed stupidity
Nov. 21, 2008, 8:35 pm
Carol from Brighton Beach says:
My god, I was just a casual reader of events happening in Coney Island and even I know more of what the truth is then the un-named writer of this garbage.

I know what I am going to do, make a list of the companies that advertise here, and let them know, I will not purchase their product or deal with them because they support this garbage.
Nov. 21, 2008, 8:44 pm
Coney Girl from Coney Island says:
If Sitt and the city do make a deal, the $200-$250M (or less) won't have to come out of city's capital budget. Mayor B is a billionaire philanthropist who over the past several years has given $175M to city nonprofits through the Carnegie Fund. He also spent $1.5M of his own money to buy Coney's B & B Carousell for the city. Bloomberg's personal charity--the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York---takes donations from rich developers like Ratner and regular citizens alike. That's how the city is paying for the million dollar rehab of the carousel and lots of other projects like the new High Line Park and the Waterfall art project. I feel optimistic the city will be able to save the People's Playground from becoming Condo Island
Nov. 21, 2008, 11:33 pm
Coney Girl from Coney Island says:
why don't you write an editorial about the garbage dump and blown down fences on Thor Equities empty lot? It's a shame that visitors to Nathan's and Coney Island Beach Shop have to look at this trash heap. It's the lot at Stillwell and Bowery where go karts and batting cages were until Joe Sitt bought the lot and evicted them
Nov. 21, 2008, 11:43 pm
Mike from Coney Island says:
Garbage on Sitt's lot
Garbage in the Brooklyn Paper,

perfect together
Nov. 22, 2008, 1:53 am
MUSCLE13 from Sheepshead Bay says:
Now that the whole CI message board (all 3 of them) has posted messages under multiple internet names here let me say Thanks Brooklyn Paper and Gersh for someone actually saying the truth here.

Looking at Thor's plan and the city's modified plan they look almost exactly alike - Hotels, restaurants, entertainment retail, movie theaters and indoor and outdoor amusements.

The real problem here is who is going to build anything in Coney Island now in this economy? Sitt, Disney, Nickelodeon, Six Flags, anybody??? We have been waiting all our lives. I just hope Bloomberg sticks to the plans of year round but I have doubts now whether anybody will build anything.

The real fault lies in the fact that the CIDC was created in 2003 and we are entering 2009 now and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE YET. They haven't even passed zoning yet. Shameful. Now we are in the worst economy of our lives and they will pass the zoning and who will build anything. WHO?????

Zoning without a developer means nothing. Just a poor poor job by everyone involved.
Nov. 22, 2008, 4:35 pm
Bruce from Coney Island says:
here we go again, a person who thinks the people are against him, are just 3 people, not a whole community. Sick.

Thors plans and the cities are not anywhere close to each other. Only a person hell bent on the destruction of the amusement industry would say so. Sitt doesnt understand amusements and the sort of retail that goes with it. The last two summers prove it. He wants plain retail on his land. The city does not.

Sitt will build nothing, he has promised to build nothing. He shows pretty renderings and some idiots bought it hook line and sinker.

Sitt cant afford to build anything. He even lost a downpayment to the Ward family because he couldnt afford the price.

Only a person who hates present coney island and what it has to give, would say he waited all his life for it to change. Which is why no one listens to his rants.

And Sitt never built anything, he is a land speculator. Anyone who tells you different, is just plain lying.
Nov. 22, 2008, 5:21 pm
Bruce from Coney Island says:
to the editor:

Yes, report the real news. Sitt's garbage filled lot where working businesses used to operate. For weeks, the garbage has grown, but does he care? nope. He doesnt care.
Nov. 22, 2008, 5:25 pm
Sam from Bay Ridge says:
muscle13, your post isnt worth the power it took my computer to show it. Your so full of S(h)itt, its amazing. Do you have any knowledge on anything? By the diatrabe you posted, it shows you know nothing, or do you have a financital interest
Nov. 23, 2008, 1:28 am
MUSCLE13 from Sheepshead Bay says:
I would love, after the CIDC was created in 2003 and we are entering 2009, for somebody to tell me difinitively who is going to develop Coney East. Who??? Disney, Nickelodeon, Thor, Six Flags, Tivoli, the city itself??? Who????

I wish I had that answer. We still don't. I don't see how anything has been accomplished since 2003. Zoning without a developer means nothing.

Sure Taconic will build a ton of Condos in Coney North and Coney West. They have all that property. But is the city seriously going to say they are going into Coney rezoning with the city owning all of Coney East. Who will develop the amusements, the hotels the movie theaters, the restaurants. Who???
Nov. 23, 2008, 12:31 pm
MUSCLE13 from Sheepshead Bay says:
Sometimes I wonder if Taconic owning just about all of Coney North and Coney West, has their eye on Coney East as well??? I am not sure. They have done some wonderful development in East New York. But have they ever developed entertainment complexes??

Sometimes I wonder if Taconic is what's really behind these Coney East moves. The city sure can't develop Coney East by themselves.
Nov. 23, 2008, 12:38 pm
Sam from Bay Ridge says:
since muscle13 cant figure out what name doesnt belong together, can someone help him. He mentions in the same sentence Disney, Nickelodian, Thor, Six Flags, Tivoli.

hummmmm Disney, Nickelodian, Six Flags, Tivoli provide jobs and entertainment for millions for decades. How many jobs did Thor provide in the entertainment business?

Out of touch, out of his mind
Nov. 23, 2008, 11:26 pm
Sam from Bay Ridge says:
Hey muscle 13, go get a job at the Brooklyn paper, they like people who cant think :) haha
Nov. 23, 2008, 11:28 pm
Jane from Bay Ridge says:
To the Brooklyn Paper:

Shame on you for publishing a misleading and factual inaccurate article. When you continue to print the propaganda of a developer everyone now knows is a liar you sink to his level and lead us to believe that The Brooklyn Paper is not a reliable news source.

To the lady called Muscle 13:

I do not know what you have been smoking lately. The city's plans are identical to Joe Sitt's proposal? Explain then why he rejected the city's original plan. Why he bussed in hundreds of African Americans to disrupt and shut down a town hall meeting to explaining the plan? Why he had Carl Kruger and Dom Recchea, two politicians who up to a year ago were suppose to be working for the city, use their power to shut the city's plan down?

Last summer Bloomberg was forced to come up with a compromise plan. Why would Bloomberg come up with a drastically different plan and call it a compromise if the original plan was the same as Sitt's plan? And why would Sitt reject the compromise if they were the same? Sitt wants one thing, condos. Bloomberg will not give him that. That is a big difference.

Jane Moore
Nov. 25, 2008, 12:09 am

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