Michael Immerso, author of Coney Island: The People’s Playground, wrote in the Wall Street Journal this weekend a conditional endorsement of the Bloomberg administration’s Coney Island plans:
New York’s goal of making Coney a year-round tourist destination is worthy of support — but not in a way that leaves insufficient space for seasonal attractions and amusements that have become synonymous with Coney Island. The city hasn’t yet struck a proper balance. Under the current plan, too little land is allotted for the outdoor amusements, arcades and game stands that have long been Coney Island summer staples. The redevelopment zone comprises some 47 acres, and with the right zoning there can be ample space for year-round attractions without confining classic Coney Island amusements to a fraction of that area.
Then there’s this beautiful historical context:
Eighty years ago, Giuseppe Cautella wrote: “When you bathe at Coney Island you bathe in the American Jordan. Democracy meets here and has its first interview skin to skin.” I do not doubt that a new Coney Island will emerge with first-rate amusements and year-round attractions to delight future generations, but we must, above all, respect Coney Island’s storied past and its promise of affordable fun for the masses. That promise is the very heart and soul of Coney Island.