Borough President Markowitz has come out strongly in favor of Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial plan for redeveloping Coney Island with new amusements and housing.
For months, Markowitz had been tight-lipped about the mayor’s plan to spend untold hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to rezone 19 blocks, build new infrastructure and acquire land near the Boardwalk for a new amusement park ringed by privately built hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions like a water park or movie theaters.
But on Wednesday, the Beep broke the silence and embraced Bloomberg’s vision, though he suggested some modifications.
“I commend the mayor … for prioritizing the creation of a year-round affordable Coney Island for the 21st century,” Markowitz said in a statement. “By adopting the following changes to the rezoning plan, we will ensure a new Coney Island distinguished by vibrant, visible amusement activity and guaranteed awe-inspiring design.”
The mayor’s rezoning plan covers the existing, under-performing amusement area from the Cyclone roller coaster to Keyspan Park, and areas to the west and north, where the city says that developers will build 4,500 apartment units.
Markowitz’s approval follows a different type of support from Community Board 13, which added recommendations that were favorable the area’s main landowner, Joe Sitt, a locally unpopular developer who says he wants to build his own amusement park in Coney Island, but is now negotiating with the city to buy his land.
The Bloomberg Administration expressed dissatisfaction with CB13’s resolution, but had no problem with Markowitz’s changes, which include:
• increasing the required amount of attractions built on West 10th Street, Surf Avenue and Stillwell Avenue.
• stipulating that there will not be “one overarching manager of the amusements,” like Six Flags.
• empowering a committee to ensure snazzy and iconic architecture, signage, lighting throughout the amusement area.
• requirements that construction use union labor, pay livable wages and give preference to Coney Island residents.
• discounts in the People’s Playground to neighborhood residents.
The Borough President’s vote comes shortly after the city and Sitt unveiled highly publicized temporary amusements. The mayor’s office booked Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s circus for a limited engagement, and Sitt has arranged for interim rides, sideshows and a flea market for vacant lots he owns.
The City Planning Commission will review the Coney Island proposal next, where it’s expected to be approved before the project heads for final approval in the City Council, where Councilman Domenic Recchia (D–Coney Island), a chum of Sitt, could obstruct the mayor’s vision.