The Bloomberg administration is getting squeezed from all sides with its Coney Island plan, as its most recent proposal is taking fire from both advocates of the historic amusement hub and the area’s major landholder, Joseph Sitt.
Key advocates who once rallied behind the Bloomberg administration are now coming out strongly against the city’s proposal, expressing dismay that it would further shrink down the amusement district, putting retail and some hotels where city-owned land for amusements was once planned.
“The new plan sucks,” said Dick Zigun, the director of the nonprofit Coney Island USA who is often called the unofficial mayor of Coney Island. “They initially came together and came up with a plan that everybody got on board for … This is so watered down it is unacceptable.”
The criticism of Mr. Zigun, who joins boardwalk boutique store owner Dianna Carlin in his opposition, comes on top of Mr. Sitt’s dissatisfaction with the plan, at least as currently presented. The city wants Mr. Sitt’s land to have a large “entertainment retail” component for shops such as Hard Rock Café and movie theaters, though Mr. Sitt’s attorney told us earlier this week that an element of standard retail is needed in order for the plan to be economically viable.
Mr. Zigun is a board member of the Coney Island Development Corporation, a group founded by the city’s Economic Development Corporation and other stakeholders as a means to come up with a community-crafted strategic plan for the area.
“After my private briefing with EDC I offered to resign from the CIDC, making it very clear that I cannot support a compromise of a compromise of a compromise, and was told that I am entitled to remain an opposition member on the board, so I have not resigned,” he said. Mr. Zigun also promised “a lot of noise” this summer in opposition.
The city’s next course of action depends in large part on Councilman Domenic Recchia, the local legislator who has thus far sided with Mr. Sitt, and whose refusal to support the Bloomberg administration’s earlier plan led the city to come up with the alternative plan.
Any land-use change would require approval from the City Council, which is expected to defer to Mr. Recchia, a Democrat running for Congress in a traditionally Republican district that encompasses Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn.