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Archive for the tag 'hurricane sandy aftermath'

American National Red Cross building (Source: Wikipedia)

American National Red Cross building (Source: Wikipedia)

The Red Cross, like many prominent charity organizations, promised aid and relief to scores of victims following the events of Superstorm Sandy. Aljazeera America is reporting that the organization has since informed many victims initially told they would receive help that they are now ineligible to access resources because of policy changes instituted by upper management operators.

After Sandy struck last year, the Red Cross raised $308 million for the relief effort, creating their Move-In Assistance Program in the process. The money raised was the highest gathered by any charity organization. The program promised storm victims that their belongings lost in the storm would be replaced and that they would be given $10,000 to find a new place to live. While the Red Cross is claiming that their program has helped nearly 3,000 victims, hundreds have been denied help due to eligibility requirements that were changed following promises made.

Aljazeera America relayed the story of Rosaline Fernandez, a storm victim who was promised help but ultimately never received it:

Rosaline Fernandez and her three children live in a tiny apartment. It’s all the high school Spanish teacher could find – or afford – after Superstorm Sandy ravaged her Jamaica Bay home on Long Island, N.Y., a year ago. The bay water met the ocean water, soon destroying her car, the furniture inside her home, her kids’ clothes and all the food.

“The first floor was completely washed out,” Fernandez told America Tonight. “There was mold. There was water. There [were] funky smells.”

Months of living in a hotel came and went before Fernandez heard that the Red Cross could help her out. She said she spoke to a caseworker who told her about the Move-In Assistance Program, a program that has helped nearly 3,000 households, according to the Red Cross. She said that the caseworker explained how Fernandez would be eligible for money to move into a new place and that all of her household items would be replaced. The Red Cross told Fernandez that she was eligible for $10,000. Once she found a new home, all she had to do was submit a W-9 tax form and the application, and she’d be set. Months later – and now more than a year after Sandy – she has not received her Red Cross aid…

“There are hundreds of people across New York that all have the same story, that were all told they would be assisted or they’re eligible for assistance, and did homework for the Red Cross,” said Ben Smilowitz, founder of the Disaster Accountability Project, a nonprofit aiming to improve transparency in relief organizations. Smilowitz, a former Red Cross volunteer during Hurricane Katrina, said that many people affected by Sandy “jumped through hoops, took days off work to collect information, and then only to find out that they weren’t eligible in the first place.”

As Smilowitz indicated, Fernandez was not alone in her struggle, as hundreds of other victims have been left in the cold by a change in Red Cross policy. What that change was exactly, and why it was instituted remains a mystery, but according to the report, many Red Cross employees, trying to help struggling families, were left outraged and dismayed by the upper management’s decision to do so:

The Red Cross worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said that, in general, he believed that the humanitarian organization attempts to be a good steward of donors’ dollars.

“However, the decision that was implemented on May 6 didn’t seem to have anything to do with that,” the worker told America Tonight. “There were clients who had received a commitment from the Red Cross for money to assist them in recovering from the storm, but then were deemed ineligible. That’s not assisting clients. That’s not directing the donor dollar where it should be. That’s lying to the victims of the storm and survivors of the storm.”

The Red Cross insists that the program criteria has been consistent since February, but that’s not what Red Cross workers say. America Tonight spoke to several former workers and one who still works there. They told MacVicar that after May 6, there was so much confusion about the program that they were ordered to not speak to their clients. Some Red Cross workers were so upset about telling clients they were no longer eligible for assistance that they quit their jobs. None of the current or former Red Cross employees who spoke to America Tonight could say for sure why the change was made, knowing only that it came from upper management.

For its part, the Red Cross has promised Congressional staff members that they would review their policies and attempt to honor any promises made that they have since rescinded.

“If clients believe they were promised assistance by a Red Cross caseworker and our documentation supports this, we will honor their request, even if they do not fully meet program criteria,” a spokesperson for the Red Cross told Aljazeera America.

Time will tell if the Red Cross comes through on their promise.

Have you or anyone you know been given assistance by the Red Cross following Sandy. Did they make you a promise but later deem you ineligible for funds? Lets us know.


Future plans for Coney Island Creek. (Source:

As Mayor Michael Bloomberg exits the stage, he is hoping a big part of his legacy will include the successful follow through on a $20 billion “resiliency” plan that would seek to protect the city’s coastlines from rising sea levels and future storms. The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) laid out one such plan that involves both beautifying and fortifying Coney Island Creek, through a plan that would unite Coney Island’s Kaiser Park with Bath Beach’s Calvert Vaux Park.

During the events of Superstorm Sandy, Coney Island Creek got hammered, suffering massive flooding and heavy damage. The NYCEDC described the damaged sustained to the area by the storm, the strategy to protect the area and how the proposals would improve the surrounding community:

During Hurricane Sandy, Coney Island Creek was the main source of inundation for much of the Gravesend and Coney Island neighborhoods.  Low edges and topography contributed to “backdoor” flooding that caused enormous damage.  Building off recommendations from the Mayor’s Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR) released in June 2013, a key recommendation was a detailed feasibility study of integrated hydrological management strategies.

These strategies would prevent and mitigate upland flooding in adjacent areas while improving waterfront open space, strengthening connections between neighborhoods, and establishing principles for sound development around the Creek. This assessment would consider technical feasibility, cost, phasing, environmental considerations, and other important issues that will inform implementation.

The city’s website broke down the specifics of these plans even further as well as what the project needs going forward to become a reality:

The proposal for Coney Creek includes:

  • Coastal Protection: The installation of a new levee and tidal barrier system at the mouth of the creek to manage the flow of water during a similar future coastal storm. As a first phase, the City intends to install shoreline protection along the creek’s lowest lying edges to provide interim protection in advance of a larger investment.
  • Stormwater Management: By incorporating operational controls to the City’s stormwater management system, this system would allow the creek to absorb stormwater runoff and improve drainage to protect adjacent neighborhoods and infrastructure during coastal storms or extreme precipitation events.
  • Parks: By combining Calvert Vaux and Kaiser parks around a renewed and restored wetland and lake complex, this system can bring together two neighborhoods historically separated by Coney Island Creek and achieve better waterfront access and a new destination park in Southern Brooklyn.

Next steps: A portion of the City’s Community Development Block Grant funding has been allocated for the planning of this project. An RFP is currently being developed for a team to develop the concept further and provide critical information about technical, environmental and planning issues as well as costs.

The whole concept sounds fantastic and expensive but no one said storm proofing the New York City coastline was going to be easy or cheap. I suppose forking over a lot now might prevent being forced to pay a ton later when the city is engulfed by ocean waters.

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Source: Philip Kamrass / Times Union)

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Source: Philip Kamrass / Times Union)

Citing Con Edison’s lackluster performance during Superstorm Sandy, Governor Andrew Cuomo urged the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to deny Con Ed’s requested rate increase for 2014. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Cuomo is demanding that utility companies be more accountable for their service.

According to the report, Con Ed is seeking a 4 percent rate increase on electricity bills and a 1.5 percent increase on gas bills. Cuomo was straightforward in his opposition to allowing Con Ed to raise their rates:

“It’s clear that now is not the time for Con Edison to demand that its customers pay more,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement…

In a letter to the bi-partisan PSC, Mr. Cuomo said last year’s hurricane and the Metro-North outage “reinforced the importance of a reliable electric system and the need to hold utilities accountable for their preparedness and response, especially when considering potential rate hikes.”

The letter noted that ConEd customers pay among the highest electricity prices in the nation, “making it essential that the Commission scrutinize any request for further rate increases.”

Con Ed responded to Cuomo’s comments by indicating that infrastructure investment must be made in case of future storms.

“We will continue working with the Commission, and state and local officials, on the importance of protecting New York City and Westchester from the next major storm.  We also must continue making investments necessary to maintain the high level of reliability New Yorkers expect and deserve,” Con Ed said in a statement.

Cuomo dismissed the argument that Con Ed needed to raise rates to improve their service.

“Given the historically low interest rates and the economic and income growth forecasts, such investments can be made without the rate increase requested by the utility. Maintaining stable rates and indeed, lowering rates whenever feasible, is critical to supporting our economic recovery and creating jobs in the region,” Cuomo wrote.

It’s been a long, crazy summer by the beach. Nearly a year after Superstorm Sandy devastated the area, Coney Island went through a wild summer season. Like any neighborhood with a theme park at its heart, there were thrills, chills and nearly collapsing Astrotowers.

As the summer wind gives way to autumn chills, I’m reminded of some of the bigger Coney Island stories of the summer. As the boardwalk reopened, a stronger corporate presence began to entrench itself, inviting the forced jingoistic promises of fun from the likes of Applebees. With many tri-state beaches closed following Sandy’s wrath, the beaches at Coney Island were more popular than ever, enraging locals looking for parking, fighting through crowds and dealing with increased trash. As the boardwalk boomed with new businesses and a fancy new parachute jump light display, the local community was still reeling from damaged schools and medical facilities, closed libraries and sinkholes. The longstanding Astrotower was taken down after people grew worried that the whistling space needle was about to be knocked over by the wind.

Tragedy was also a common theme on Coney Island. There was murder at the Marlboro Houses (2740 86th Street) and the horrifying story of a little girl who fell out of a window at the Gravesend Housing project (3194 Bay View Avenue) after suffering signs of abuse, and a 5-year-old who suffered severe injuries on a Coney Island ride. The area also dealt with ugly racism when the Jackie Robinson statue standing outside MCU Park (1904 Surf Avenue) was defaced with hate speech. The community rallied together, cleaning and rededicating the statue on “Diversity Day,” remembering all the good that Robinson stood for. On the lighter side, Beyonce took a whirl on the Cylcone, inadvertently causing  a woman to sob in terror after being stranded in the sky on the Wonder Wheel while Beyonce’s team prepped her makeup.

Those are just a few of the stories that capped off a transformative and turbulent year for the area. The video above, produced by Tibitubu, captures the waning summer spirit of Coney Island in a short and beautifully filmed package that features a subway ride to the beach, crashing waves, music and seagulls.

Nathan's Famous in the 1950s (Source: eBay via

Nathan’s Famous in the 1950s (Source: eBay via

Every time I am tasked with writing something about the original Nathan’s Famous (1310 Surf Avenue) I get really hungry. There is something about those delicious, ketchup-covered* hot dogs, the salty crinkle-cut french fries and the sea breeze off the boardwalk at Coney Island that just presses all my happy buttons. We all know that Nathan’s is a Brooklyn institution, but a reminder never hurts. A report in Brownstoner delves into the near century-long tradition of the world’s best hot-dog palace.

Like many Coney Island businesses, Nathan’s was wrecked by Superstorm Sandy. The hot-dog headquarters had a triumphant reopening this past May after undergoing a full remodeling. After all, no mere storm was going to sink this royal house of franks. Brownstoner noted that the reopening of Nathan’s brought back something old to the new start:

It re-opened in the spring of 2013, in time for the Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer. This time, they added something new – well, something old made a comeback, rather. The new Nathan’s has a curbside clam bar again, not seen since the 1950s. It’s a revival of the restaurant’s raw bar, with East Coast oysters and littleneck clams that are shucked on order over a mountain of ice. They are served with chowder crackers, lemon wedges, horseradish and cocktail sauce.

Brownstoner rolls back the clock even further, describing how Nathan’s was born from the original hot dog inventors:

The story is a familiar rags to riches, immigrant success story. Nathan’s Famous began in the mind of an enterprising Polish immigrant named Nathan Handwerker. Prior to 1916, he was working at the famous Feltman’s German Gardens, an immensely popular restaurant on Coney Island. Charles Feltman was another success story, a German immigrant who came to the US in 1856 at the age of fifteen. His Coney Island career started with a food pushcart on the beach, but by the early 1900’s, that push cart had grown into an empire that took up an entire city block. Feltman’s entertainment and restaurant complex contained nine restaurants, a beer garden, two enormous bars, a carousel, a roller coaster, an outdoor movie theater, a hotel, a ballroom, a bathhouse, a pavilion, a maple garden and a Tyrolean village. He was now a millionaire many times over.

Today, few people remember the enormity of his business, but they do remember that here in New York, he is credited for the invention of the hot dog. (There are other contenders.) He would later comment that his decision to put a sausage on a roll was not an attempt to invent something new, but was just an expedient way of serving the meat, one that didn’t need expensive silverware, or even a plate. He sold his frankfurters for ten cents, and they quickly became the most popular item on his menu.

The report then describes how Nathan Handwerker, (a great name for a hot dog pioneer, I might add) went on to build his own empire using cheaper prices and orchestrating the myth that his hot dogs were healthier than the competition’s:

Nathan Handwerker, as a worker at Feltman’s, was of course familiar with its famous fare. It was his job to split the rolls, and deliver the franks to the grilling station. Legend has it that he slept on the floor of the restaurant in order to save money for his own business. He wanted to make a better hot dog, and he had just the person to help him – his wife Ida Greenwald Handwerker. She had a recipe enhanced with secret spice ingredients handed down from her grandmother in the Old Country. With the encouragement of fellow Feltman’s employees, pianist Jimmy Durante and singing waiter Eddie Cantor, Nathan and Ida pooled together their savings, and with that $300, went into the hot dog business. In order to make their mark, and drum up their initial business, Nathan’s charged only five cents for their hot dogs, while Feltman’s were twice as much, at ten cents. It worked. The good tasting, cheaper hot dog was an enormous hit.

The dogs were sold at the small Nathan’s Famous stand on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues, beginning in 1916. Nathan was a great idea man, and like all of the great Coney Island entrepreneurs, had more than a bit of the showman in him. He knew that a food like the hot dog would be suspicious to many people, especially in those early days before food inspectors. Ground meat products in casings, like hot dogs and sausages, caused many a raised eyebrow as to their content. They didn’t call it “mystery meat” for nothing. So he devised a two-fold strategy to overcome that stigma.

First, he had all of his servers dress in clean white surgeon’s smocks, to show cleanliness. He then handed out flyers to the local hospitals telling staff that they could eat for free, if they came to Nathan’s in their hospital white uniforms. Soon, long lines of doctors, nurses and aides, all in white, were standing in lines at the stand. Hey, if health professionals ate here in droves, it must be healthy, good food, right? Nathan’s never looked back.

Amazing stuff. The report goes on to detail the menu items added over the years and the subsequent massive expansion of the business over the years. I think I’m gonna hop on the Q-train now and grab a dog, but if your mouth isn’t quite watering yet, you can read the entire report by clicking here.

*Neditor’s note – Ketchup? F’ing ketchup?! MUSTARD! SPICY BROWN DELI MUSTARD! Ugh. I apologize to our readers for Willie’s uncivilized tastes. Freakin’ transplants.

Photo Courtesy of Christine Finn

Photo Courtesy of Christine Finn

The following is a press release from the offices of Senator Charles Schumer:

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that the $7.2 million contract awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers to place 600,000 cubic yards of sand along Coney Island is scheduled to be pumped this upcoming weekend. Schumer fought for and secured approval for this emergency project as part of the Coney Island Reach project, which extends from West 37th Street to Brighton Beach.

“Coney Island was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy and soon, its beaches will be well on their way to being protected against future flooding,” said Schumer. “This emergency project is critical to Coney Island beachgoers and homeowners and that’s why I fought hard to make sure this replenishment project had funding necessary from the Sandy Relief Bill. It is gratifying to see this work about to begin.”

The Coney Island Reach project, which extends from West 37th Street to Brighton Beach, consists of approximately 3 miles of beachfront which provides storm damage reduction to the densely populated communities and infrastructure located along the shoreline of Coney Island.

Through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (the Sandy Relief Bill, or PL 113-2), the Corps of Engineers is authorized to restore certain previously constructed projects impacted by Hurricane Sandy to their original design profile. Through this legal authority, the Corps of Engineers is authorized to place the additional sand at Coney Island to restore the project area to its original design profile. PL 113-2 also allocated the funds for the coastal restoration work.

Schumer today announced that the Corps expects the work will begin the weekend of September 7th and will pump 600,000 cubic yards of sand along Coney Island.

Source: via the Advance Group

Source: via the Advance Group

Looking to stem the influence of billion dollar real estate agencies in the post-Superstorm Sandy reconstruction phase, Democratic City Council candidate John Lisyanskiy laid out a housing and economic development strategy to protect affordable housing. In a press release, Liysyanskiy also attacked his opponent Mark Treyger (D), characterizing him as a puppet of real estate developers.

As the first anniversary of Sandy approaches, Lisyanskiy noted the importance making sure the rebuilding isn’t dominated by powerful real estate interests looking to drive out lower income residents:

…”we must do so responsibly, in a way that makes Coney Island a thriving economic center as well as protects its residents from predatory corporations. Right now, multi-billion dollar real-estate agencies see Coney Island as a veritable feeding ground. These corporations want to demolish affordable housing complexes that serve as homes to thousands of working class members of the Coney Island family. Their goal is to make room for high-rise hotels and casinos that will inevitably cast hundreds of low-income families to the street,” Lisyanskiy said.

Lisyanskiy then painted Treyger as being in the pocket of real estate firms, citing his connection to the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY).

“Jobs for NY, the intentionally deceptive name of REBNY’s political action committee, has financed dozens of advertisements promoting Treyger. What voters don’t know is that Jobs for NY receives millions of dollars in funding from just 22 major real-estate developers. When REBNY comes knocking, calling in those favors, Treyger isn’t going to remember all the promises he made to the residents of Coney Island. All he is going to care about is how he is going to finance his next round of advertisements. Together, we can keep Coney Island out of the hands of greedy corporations,” Lisyanskiy said in the release.

The candidate also laid out his four keys for his “plan for responsible development,” which includes expanding affordable housing and making sure all Sandy related repairs are finally completed.

  • I will ensure that overdue repairs of homes that were harmed by Superstorm Sandy are expedited and reduce wait times for future repairs.
  • I will work with the community to develop a plan that will make Coney Island an attractive place for businesses without displacing thousands of families.
  • I will fight to stop the Rent Guidelines Board from increasing rent on homes affected by Sandy and work with NYCHA to maintain and expand affordable housing.
  • I will utilize City Council Land Use authority to demand greater proportion of affordable housing in new developments.
Source: Golden's office

Source: Golden’s office

State Senator Marty Golden wrote a letter to Joan McDonald, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), throwing his support behind an amendment that would provide billions of dollars for Superstorm Sandy-related MTA projects.

Here are the details of the proposed amendment:

  • Adds $5.674 billion to the 2010-2014 Capital Program for mitigation projects identified in response to Superstorm Sandy;
  • Includes $1.6 billion in project-level adjustments in accordance with the full funding plan approved by the CPRB in March 2012, and
  • Rebalances the budgets of various project classifications to reflect the current priorities and allow projects to proceed, including addressing so-called 10 percent issues.

Golden explained the importance in approving the amendment and provided more specifics on what the money would cover.

“This amendment includes $5.674 billion in transit and commuter railroad mitigation projects which will prevent or reduce water intrusion in stations, tunnels, and support facilities; fortify key infrastructure and right-of-way equipment; improve operational flexibility; and improve the overall resiliency of the MTA system and its ability to recover from major weather events and other disruptions,” Golden said in the letter to the NYSDOT.

Congressman Michael Grimm and Councilman Domenic Recchia

Congressman Michael Grimm and Councilman Domenic Recchia

Congressional elections are still more than a year away but the race to represent Bensonhurst and Staten Island is already starting to boil. NY1 is reporting that Republican Congressman Michael Grimm and the Democratic challenger, Councilman Domenic Recchia, are already locking horns over key issues like the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and taking swipes at each other’s campaign fundraising allegations.

As we’ve previously reported, Grimm is no supporter of the ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare, joining the broad GOP effort to repeal the hot-button measure numerous times. In an interview with NY1, Recchia accused Grimm of being a puppet of the GOP hierarchy.

“Michael Grimm is in the pocket of John Boehner,” Recchia told NY1.

While numbers indicate that Grimm voted with the GOP 84 percent of the time, Grimm vehemently denied this allegation.

“I voted against my party so many times that I’ve been criticized by the right constantly, so he’s misleading people, because he knows I’m a really good congressman, and he doesn’t have a prayer,” Grimm told NY1.

Recently, we reported that Grimm blasted his own party for inviting GOP Senator Rand Paul to a New York City fundraising event, because Paul voted against hurricane relief for Superstorm Sandy victims. Grimm also said that while he wants to repeal the ACA, he doesn’t support shutting down the government to do so.

“I don’t support shutting down government, I do support repealing Obamacare, but you know how we really do that as Republicans? We win the presidency and we win the Senate,” Grimm said.

While Grimm is currently figured as a favorite to be reelected, he is still vulnerable and Democrats are banking on investigations by the Department of Justice (DOJ) into allegations that Grimm accepted illegally raised campaign funds in his first election. Last week, we reported on a guilty plea entered by Ofer Biton, an Israeli national targeted by the FBI on charges of embezzlement and extortion. As the case is ongoing, it is not yet known if Biton is cooperating with federal officials in their continued investigation of Grimm’s connection in the matter.

Recchia has faced heat himself for using his role as Council Finance Chair to direct one third of his “member items” budget on projects in Staten Island, a district he doesn’t represent. In July, we reported that Recchia defended the action as the result of the unique circumstances brought upon by Superstorm Sandy.

NY1 highlighted how Recchia is doing everything he can to make his name visible in the upcoming showdown with Grimm, who is known for his tenacious campaigning style:

One of the biggest challenges facing Recchia may have nothing to do with politics, but instead location, since he lives across the Verrazano Bridge in Brooklyn and not on Staten Island.

Still, Recchia wants voters to know that he’s always thinking about the borough.

“My mother lives on Staten Island,” Recchia said.

He also wants to voters to know that he’s dedicated to find ways to shower the borough with council pork.

“As the finance Chairman, I funded millions of dollars for different programs on Staten Island,” Recchia said.

In fact, his name is all over a taxpayer-funded council newsletter for a district he doesn’t even represent.

A spokesperson for the councilman says Recchia didn’t ask to be included in it.

Recchia knows, however, that he needs to get his name out, as he prepares to go up against a congressman who is ready to fight.

Source: Daniel P. Fleming via Flickr

Source: Daniel P. Fleming via Flickr

For better or worse, New York City is the land of constant renewal. Over the last century, newer and higher skyscrapers overshadowed older ones, poor and working class neighborhoods transformed into expensive and trendy hotspots and the luxurious beachfront resorts of Coney Island evolved into an amusement center and then a source of urban blight. The long and winding history of the development of Coney Island real estate and its future is tracked in a great primer  by Salon.

We have spilled a lot of digital ink on the history of Coney Island, starting with the competing resort days of Manhattan and Brighton Beach, the days when the area was the source of bizarre spectacles like the public electrocution of an elephant and the efforts of those who failed to transform the area into a glittering paradise after it fell into decay.

Salon’s article, though, tackles the onset of modernity, and the woes it caused at the People’s Playground:

This was once a singular place, an amusement park so grand and unusual that on an average weekend in its heyday, visitors mailed a quarter-million postcards to friends and relatives. Luna Park, the flagship attraction that burned down in 1916, drew nearly 100,000 attendees each day. By the time the subway reached Stillwell Avenue, in 1918, the area drew still more visitors. Weegee’s iconic 1940 image of Coney Island beachgoers jammed together like sardines today hangs in restaurants up and down the boardwalk, a memento of the glory days.

In the ensuing decades, population loss, television, cars and air conditioning undercut Coney Island’s appeal. New York’s urban planning czar, Robert Moses, hated its tawdry arcades and thrill rides. He transformed the eastern end of the amusement district into a home for the relocated New York Aquarium. The housing projects with which he rebuilt Coney Island became some of the city’s most depressed and dangerous.

Jumping from Coney Island’s decay, the report delves into those who changed Coney Island through land use and zoning battles, property squatting and tenant evictions; the horrendous city planning pains that birthed the new New Coney Island, for better or for worse:

As the city grew rapidly in the ’90s, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani set his sights on Coney Island. Like [Robert] Moses before him, he bulldozed a roller coaster to build a recreational facility, this time a minor league ballpark for the Brooklyn Cyclones. The Bloomberg administration eyed the island as a potential site for the 2012 Olympics, and in 2003, commissioned the Coney Island Development Corporation (CIDC) to examine the possibility of revising the restrictive C7 zoning that since 1961 had sheltered carnies and coasters (and a few vacant lots, as well) from market forces.

But a Brooklyn developer named Joe Sitt stole the limelight from CIDC, announcing a $2 billion plan in September 2005 that made the Las Vegas Strip look dull. Sitt had shrewdly purchased over a dozen acres of the old amusement park in anticipation of a rezoning gold rush, and hoped to bring in marquee clients like Dave and Buster’s, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and the Hard Rock Café.

It’s fair to say New Yorkers were horrified by Sitt’s plan — he responded by toning it down in later renditions — but what happened next was worse. Unable to build on his new land, Sitt chose instead to destroy it. Two years after his gaudy dreamchild was plastered on the cover of New York magazine, his development company, Thor Equities, began to evict tenants in what was both a premature move towards development and, many observers reckoned, an attempt to force the city’s hand. Coney Island grew barren. “They paved paradise to put up…. what exactly?” asked the Brooklyn Paper.

The present reality of Coney Island, influenced by Bloomberg’s efforts to redevelop and rezone seemingly the entire city, and the events of Superstorm Sandy, has attracted a corporate presence to the boardwalk, no matter how nauseating some might see it. Salon’s report touches on the fears some have of the quixotic spirit of the area being stamped out forever:

What’s in store for the amusement area? “We will never make Disney here,” CAI president Valero Ferrari told the New York Times, ”but it will be something more… refined, cleaner, a little more year-round, if that’s possible, with sit-down restaurants and sports bars.”

The company hired Miami Beach restaurateur Michele Merlo to re-envision the boardwalk, with plans that call for, among other things, a food court with international cuisine. “Maybe one day,” he said in an interview with New York 1, “you can come and read your book outside on this nice boardwalk, sit in nice comfortable chairs and have a nice cappuccino or ice coffee.”

The report is well worth soaking up and you can do so by clicking here.

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