City Wrestles Sitt for Coney Island Control

“It gets cold there, doesn’t it?” Mr. Liebst told The Observer in a telephone interview. Asked if he would like to bid on the park when, in early 2009, the city asks for offers, Mr. Liebst said, “If we go into it, we will look at all the details like climate and what sort of program and that sort of thing.”

Tivoli Gardens, in the center of Copenhagen, Denmark, is not open year-round. It is open in the summer, around Halloween, and on weeks leading up to Christmas. Another site that city officials visited—Blackpool, England—has an ice-skating rink that is open throughout the cold months, which is one feature city planners are considering for Coney Island.

Omar Robau, a Brooklyn real estate broker who writes the Coney Island blog Kinetic Carnival, sees a lot of Mr. Sitt’s plan showing up in the city’s, from the roller coaster that runs the whole width and breadth of the park, to the idea of putting hotels and retail in the area between the Cyclone and KeySpan Park. Mayor Bloomberg would cluster that commercial development around Surf Avenue, upland from the boardwalk, where Mr. Sitt wanted to place them. But couldn’t zoning rules have forced Mr. Sitt to come to heel?

Since when had Coney Island become so sacred?

“Generally it seems to me more or less like a rehashing of the things proposed by Thor,” Mr. Omar said, although he had never been a fan of Thor’s plan either.

After the mayor’s announcement, Mr. Sitt e-mailed reporters a statement that said he was “disappointed” with the mayor’s plan but promised to work with the city to “do what’s best for the people of Coney Island.”

According to city officials, the idea of buying out the property owners was nothing personal. Mr. Doctoroff said that some time last spring, the city realized that in order to make sure the amusement area would take full advantage of the Coney Island brand, it would have to control which operator managed the entire park.

Lynn Kelly, the president of the Coney Island Development Corporation, said city officials worried that any landowner, not just Mr. Sitt, would come back to subsequent administrations and ask for more rezonings that would permit more residential buildings, eroding the carnival character of the area.

The only way to prevent that, she said, would be to codify the amusement district by making it parkland. As for the possibility of having to undo the park 10 or 20 years from now, if the amusement park fails, Ms. Kelly said simply that neither she nor anybody else in the city had ever considered that it would not succeed.