For years now, the Bloomberg administration has been pushing a plan to redevelop Coney Island, trying to ensure its approval in the City Council amid resistance from the amusement district’s main landowner, Joe Sitt. Now, as the Council approaches a vote on the plan in coming weeks, one major line of resistance is emerging: Domenic Recchia, the area’s councilman, is siding with Mr. Sitt on almost all of the developer’s key points, threatening the administration’s proposal.
Mr. Recchia has been generally supportive of Mr. Sitt’s arguments with the city for at least a year now, but at a Wednesday Council hearing, he seemed to stake out a position of clear opposition on a number of topics. At the hearing, Mr. Recchia aimed pointed questions at city officials, many of which matched the set of talking points that Mr. Sitt and his consultants have been reciting in recent weeks, both privately and publicly.
Mr. Recchia’s questions, voiced in a frustrated and at times angry tone, set the stage for a showdown with the Bloomberg administration over its plan, which imagines thousands of new apartments and year-round indoor amusements to accompany a revitalized outdoor amusement zone.
Specifically, he made clear his rejection of the administration’s proposal to classify a portion of the site—including Mr. Sitt’s property—as parkland. That would allow the use of eminent domain on Mr. Sitt’s land (though that’s not the city’s stated intention) and clear the way for more housing on another portion of the site. Mr. Sitt has pushed this point, as his land would presumably be far less valuable and developable with the potential cloud of eminent domain hovering over it, an argument that has won the ear of Mr. Recchia and key elected officials in Albany.
The owner of the neighboring Wonder Wheel, the Vouderis family, has also been concerned about the parkland, and when Mr. Recchia addressed the issue, he did not mention Mr. Sitt directly.
“If the Vouderis family is not happy—if the Wonder Wheel got taken up in parkland, I am recommending we turn this down,” he said of the administration’s plan.
Mr. Recchia also took up a second point that Mr. Sitt has pushed: remove a new planned street from the plan, “Wonder Wheel Way,” which would divide up his parcels and make his land more difficult to develop.