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Coney Island may have been battered by Superstorm Sandy last October, but local business operators are still hoping for a record summer, according to a report by Crain’s.

Optimism for a full rebound of America’s Playground comes in the form of all the money and hard work poured into Coney’s rebuilding following the superstorm’s impact. According to Wonder Wheel owner Dennis Vourderis, the dozens of attractions have been repainted and refurbished, giving the area a fresh new look.

“We’re gonna look as good as the first day we opened,” Vourderis told Crain’s. “Probably better.”

Other signs of encouragement stem from the record number of visitors Coney has drawn in recent years, as well as a desire by New Yorkers to make sure the local landmark remains bright and strong.

Since a contentious redevelopment in 2009, attendance at the amusement park has set new records each summer, peaking at more than 1 million visitors last year, a 50% increase over the 2011 season.

What’s more, this summer Coney Island will have something else going for it, a wave of public support.

“We’ve gotten so much support in the recovery, online, on the streets, in donations, and I just know that support is going to be down here when we’re open, to celebrate,” said Johanna Zaki, director of operations at the Alliance for Coney Island, a newly formed business group.

Despite the enthusiasm for a full Coney comeback, one famed event – the annual Mermaid Parade – might not make it this year:

The future of the famed Mermaid Parade is also in doubt, because its operator may not be able to afford the event. The parade has grown more popular in recent years, reaching more than half-a-million spectators last year, but so has the cost of hosting it.

Coney Island USA, which has a museum and performance space on Surf Avenue, sustained more than $400,000 in damage, said Dick Zigun, who runs the organization and parade and is often considered the “mayor” of Coney. Mr. Zigun is banking on a fundraiser at Webster Hall Sat., March 9, to see him through. “Without that money, we’re going to have to cut back somewhere,” he said. “As it is, unless we get a lot of walk-ups to the party, I’m not sure we’re gonna make it.”

Say it ain’t so! The Mermaid Parade is, by far, my favorite New York parade. I really hope someone figures out a way to finance the thing because without all those mermaids strutting their stuff down Surf Avenue, there is no Coney Island.

Source: Mr. Inky / Flickr

As temps soar into the comfortable low 50s, there is no better time for your commute to be inconvenienced by service changes. Luckily, the MTA does not disappoint.

D Line

From 11:45 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., now to Friday, March 15, there will be no Coney Island-bound D trains at 7th Avenue, 47th-50th Streets, 42nd Street-Bryant Park, and 34th Street-Herald Square. Coney-Island-bound D trains will be rerouted via the C from 59th Street to West 4th Street.

D train service will be operating in two sections:

  • Between 205th Street and the 2nd Avenue F station, the last stop, and
  • Between West 4th Street and Stillwell Avenue.

To continue your trip, transfer at Broadway-Lafayette Street.

F Line

Through first quarter of 2013, F trains will skip Smith-9th Streets in both directions. Use bus service to and from 4th Avenue-9th Street or Carroll Street instead.

Days

From 9:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 12, Coney Island-bound F trains will be running express from 18th Avenue to Kings Highway.

From 9:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Thursday, March 14, Coney Island-bound F trains will be running express from 18th Avenue to Kings Highway.

Nights

From 11:45 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., now to Friday, March 15, 179th Street-bound F trains are being rerouted via the A from Jay Street-MetroTech to West 4th Street.

N Line

Nights

From 11:45 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., now to Friday, Coney Island-bound N trains will be running express from 57th Street-7th Avenue to Canal Street.

Days

From 10:15 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Tuesday to Friday, March 12-15, Ditmars Boulevard-bound N trains will be skipping 39th Avenue, 36th Avenue, Broadway, and 30th Avenue.

These service changes affect one or more ADA accessible stations. Please call 511 for help with planning your trip. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use your preferred relay service provider or the free 711 relay. For more information, go to mta.info and read station signs.

Source: ign.com

Councilman David Greenfield invited the public to a participatory budgeting expo where special “budget delegates” got a chance to weigh in on the best way to spend $1 million allocated from his discretionary budget, according to a report by The Home Reporter.

Greenfield, who represents constituents in Midwood, Borough Park and Bensonhurst, promised that each area would get a piece of the pie in the form of a special project that everybody can vote on.

The three projects proposed all centered around pedestrian safety. Under consideration are traffic countdown clocks designed to take the guesswork out of crossing the street, a street resurfacing of Community Board 11, and the installation of permanent planter bollards on Stillwell Avenue to protect children from traffic accidents near Public School 682 (50 Avenue P).

Voting takes place between April 3 and 7 at locations throughout Greenfield’s district. Precise voting locations have yet to be assigned.

If it were up to me, I’d spend the money on a state-of-the-art monorail system connecting Midwood, Borough Park and Bensonhurst. Not only would there be a guarantee that the track won’t bend, brain dead slobs will be given cushy jobs! Monorail, monorail, monorail…

Source: Jamie Adams via Wikimedia Commons

It appears the New York State budget will be delivered on time for the third year in a row – a noteworthy accomplishment rising out of Albany’s dysfunction. But, in getting it done, legislators have postponed decision-making on some of the more controversial topics, including an amendment on the expansion of casino gambling that could see one established in Coney Island.

City & State reports:

“I have concern with working toward an on-time budget,” Cuomo said. “We’ve had two on-time budgets. This would be the third on-time budget since about 1984. We have a number of issues on the table that are challenging, that are controversial, so we’re working very hard, and it’s going well, but am I concerned? Yes.”

New York State has a $1.6 billion gap in its $135 billion budget for 2013–14. That amount is far smaller than the $10 billion deficit Cuomo had to tackle in his first year in office, but several thorny policy and spending issues remain.

One of the most pressing issues to complete the budget early, as Cuomo and legislative leaders would like, is finding cuts to healthcare spending after the federal government reduces Medicaid payments to the state this year, as well as finding additional funds to send to the New York City school system if teachers win a reversal of a $240 million budget slash resulting from the failed teacher evaluation talks.

As legislators and the governor mull these issues, they’ve been forced to table some of the governor’s ambitious goals until later in the legislative season, including an expansion of legalized gambling, an increase in minimum wage and immigration reform.

The Assembly is full steam ahead on minimum wage – already passing a bill increasing it to $9.00, but Senate Republicans who share leadership in that house are opposed to it.

Concerns about casinos, though, are more bipartisan, with many legislators demanding that any casino legislation moving forward include locations in the language, something Cuomo is against.

According to the Daily News, the timing of casino rollouts is also in question. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver wants not only siting language included, but a provision to spread out the timetable for casino development. The first phase of casino expansion as outlined by Governor Cuomo would see three casinos established upstate, and Silver wants a waiting period of up to five years before a second round of casinos is launched.

“That way, the governor next year doesn’t say, ‘We need a billion dollars, that’s what someone would bid for a Manhattan casino, let’s do one there,’ ” Silver told the Daily News.

“It would also enhance the value of the (first) three, if you give them exclusivity for five years or some period of time,” he added. “It would make the bidding of the three more valuable (for the state) as well, if [potential operators] know they only have two others to compete with and not one in New York City.”

Silver’s Republican counterpart in the Senate, Dean Skelos, said he wants to keep all options on the table.

Daily News is also reporting that the tide is beginning to turn in both houses, as casino lobbyists up their game.

The industry “is starting to put real pressure and offer up big donations to legislators who would go the other way and support a New York City casino,” the source said. “That’s why you’re starting to see a shift in the Legislature.”

The constitutional amendment would only authorize a number of casinos to be permitted. Separate legislation would be needed to spell out the details.

Silver said lawmakers want a say in what regions are eligible for casinos, but that they do not want to get involved in the bidding process, or where specifically a casino would be located within an agreed-upon region.

The budget is due March 31, making resolution of these thornier issues unlikely until later in the legislative session, which ends in June.

Blue387 via Wikimedia Commons

The future is here… but not everyone is impressed.

Such is the sentiment that four state senators including Marty Golden expressed this week when it came to the prospect of rolling out those new digital scanning voting machines for the upcoming mayoral race.

According to a report by the New York Daily News, Golden and has colleagues believe that the Board of Elections has proved incompetent at operating the new new voting machines, failing to count votes within the 14-day turnaround required between the primaries and the runoffs in especially heated races.

“There’s enough discomfort and distrust of the system that people are alarmed,” Golden told the Daily News.

Senator Simcha Felder also expressed a fear of futuristic technology.

“These new-fangled voting machines are a disaster,” said Felder, channeling the rage of a million crotchety old men.

Despite the concerns of Golden and Felder, the Board of Elections dismissed the idea of shelving the $60 million in new voting electronics and returning to the old analog switch system.

A bicyclist was pronounced dead this morning after being struck by two vehicles on New Utrecht Avenue and 58th Street.

NY Post reports:

The unidentified victim, in his 30’s, was riding southbound on New Utrecht Avenue at 4:35 a.m. when a car came out from 58th Street and collided with him, police said.

The man was thrown from the bicycle and then hit by and pinned underneath a second car on New Utrecht Avenue, police and the FDNY said.

The drivers remained on the scene, and police are still determining whether any criminality was involved.

Click to enlarge

CompStat reports are produced by the New York Police Department on a weekly basis. We publish the week’s statistics for the 62nd Precinct reports every Friday. The 62nd Precinct is the police command responsible for Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.

Source: visualnews.com

Visual News created a cool new graphic of the busiest subway stops in New York. I took a slice of the map to show you our area, which compared to Manhattan, is comparatively light.

Predictably, Times Square is the busiest station, averaging 182,170 riders, followed by Grand Central, 34 St-Herald Square, 14 St-Union Square and 34 St Penn Station.

Based on Visual News’s chart, the Sheepshead Bay and Brighton Beach station sees about 10 to 19,000 riders per day. Bensonhurst stops are comparable to Sheepshead Bay. Interesting stuff.

Alternate Side Parking regulations are suspended citywide today, Friday, March 8, 2013, to facilitate snow removal. Meters and all other parking regulations remain in effect.

Source: Jamie Adams via Wikimedia Commons

We’ve been reporting on the possibility of casinos coming to New York City and New Yorkers’ lukewarm opposition to them. As the mayoral race becomes more a thing, the question arises as to where our future mayors stand on the issue. City and State recently got the skinny on where our would-be leaders stand on bringing glitzy gambling to the five boroughs and here is the breakdown:

  • City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D): While she thinks its a bad idea, if the state legalizes gambling, she said she would consider the possibility of a NYC-based casino.
  • Former MTA Chief Joe Lhota (R): Supportive. He believes that the success of the Resorts World Casino in Southeast Queens speaks to the idea that New Yorkers would be excited for a casino if it was located far enough from communities.
  • City Comptroller John Liu (D): He thinks its a good idea as long as its not easy to get to. He is worried about people having too easy access and gambling away their savings, so placing the casino in an isolated space, like Governors Island, appeals to him.
  • Adolfo Carrión (I): Agrees with Liu. Wants the casino built somewhere on the city’s waterfront.
  • CEO of Manhattan Media Tom Allon (R): Against legalizing gambling altogether.
  • Former City Comptroller Bill Thompson (D): Wouldn’t support one way or the other. Believes that New Yorkers must decide themselves.

Candidates Bill de Blasio, John Catsimatidis and George McDonald were either not available to comment or declined to do so. We look forward to hearing their views well before the election.