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Temporary lights on the Boardwalk

Temporary lights are currently in use on the Boardwalk in Coney Island’s amusement district. April 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Let there be light at night on the Boardwalk! On Wednesday, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced over $1 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funding for Superstorm Sandy-related repairs to lighting along the Coney Island Boardwalk. The Boardwalk’s distinctive twin cast iron light poles, which were installed with $1.2 million allocated in 2004, have not been operational since Sandy. Portable trailer-mounted lighting units were brought in earlier this year.

According to a news release, FEMA will provide $1,220,599 in federal funding to the NYC Department of Transportation for the repairs of the street lighting system serving the Coney Island Boardwalk’s 122 ornamental light poles.

Senator Charles Schumer at Coney Island Opening Day

Senator Charles Schumer at Coney Island Opening Day Ceremonies, March 24, 2013. Photo via Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park flickr

“Coney Island’s much-loved boardwalk was seriously damaged by Superstorm Sandy, including its lighting system,” said Schumer. “This federal funding will get the lights back on, just in time for summer, and make sure that New York City residents are not on the hook entirely for these expenses.”

“The iconic Coney Island boardwalk was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy, with its street lighting completely destroyed,” Gillibrand said. “This necessary reimbursement is an important step as we continue to meet New York’s needs to recover and rebuild.”

Coney Island’s rides and the majority of the businesses in the amusement area opened for the season on Palm Sunday. Nathan’s on Surf Avenue, Coney Island USA and the New York Aquarium reopened on Memorial Day Weekend. New construction and post-Sandy renovations are still underway. In April’s photo album, ATZ focused on Steeplechase Pier, Steeplechase Plaza and the Boardwalk, and the Applebee’s on the north side of Surf Avenue. In May’s construction update, we looked at the south side of Surf Avenue and Jones Walk.

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May 24, 2013: Photo Album: B&B Carousell’s Showy Letters Go Up

May 16, 2013: Shooting Gallery Revival in Post-Sandy Coney Island

April 17, 2013: Sandy-Damaged Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in Coney Island to Reopen in 2 Weeks

March 4, 2013: Nathan’s on Coney Island Boardwalk to Open Mid-March, Surf Ave by May

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Rescue boats and crane

Rescue boats and crane coming to aid of sunken barge at Steeplechase Pier in Coney Island. April 14, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy

On Sunday morning, a flotilla of rescue boats and barges were in the water east of Coney Island’s Steeplechase Pier where a construction barge and a Vergona crawler crane sank yesterday. Today’s efforts were focused on trying to remove the barge from the pier. The sunken equipment had been brought to the site a few days ago, where Triton Construction is doing repairs. The 1000-foot Steeplechase Pier was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. On Friday, the pier was swarming with workers, all wearing harnesses. By Friday night the construction barge began to list.

The above photo of the rescue craft was shot this morning by Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy, who said the big crane is twice the size of the sunken one. The dramatic photographs below of the sinking barge were taken on Saturday morning by Jim McDonnell, whose news-breaking photos ATZ posted yesterday in “Sinking Barge at Coney Island’s Steeplechase Pier.”

Sinking Barge at Steeplechase Pier

Sinking Barge and Crane at Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island. April 13, 2013. Photo © Jim McDonnell

According to NY1, the Coast Guard says the fire department had contractors unload fuel from the barge and there were no leaks. The barge’s owner is reponsible for coming up with a plan for salvaging it. We hope this is resolved quickly and doesn’t delay the reconstruction of the pier, which was scheduled to be completed by July 4th.

UPDATE April 24, 2013

The post-Sandy reconstruction of Steeplechase Pier is back up to speed after a construction barge sank on April 13: “Photo Album: Coney Island April 2013 Construction Update”, ATZ, April 24, 2013

Sinking Barge at Steeplechase Pier,

Sinking Barge at Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island. April 13, 2013. Photo © Jim McDonnell

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 14, 2013: Photo of the Day: Repairing Sandy-Damaged Steeplechase Pier

October 31, 2012: Photo Album: Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Coney Island

August 10, 2012: Steeplechase Plaza Under Construction in Coney Island

August 24, 2010: Video: Coney Island Pier Divers by Kevin C Downs

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Sinking Barge at Steeplechase Pier,

Sinking Barge at Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island. April 13, 2013. Photo © Jim McDonnell

This morning at approximately 8:23 AM, the FDNY’s Marine 6 responded to a report of a sinking barge at Coney Island’s Steeplechase Pier. NYC Fire Wire reported “All hands going to work for a sinking Barge with occupants trapped. Marine 9 rescued 2 at this time.” The barge has a crane with a 500 gallon fuel tank on it and the end of the pier was said to be in danger of collapse. Photographer Jim McDonnell was on the beach and captured the scene in these photos. Containment booms were put in place to protect against an oil spill. When more information and photos are available, we’ll post an update.

Bruce Handy photographed the barge and crane last night and said it was already tilting. The equipment had been at the end of the pier for the past few days for repairs of the Sandy-damaged pier. “The main diagonal beam that was raising the floor has been removed. Looks like they are stripping everything and will redo all the wood,” he said.

It’s exactly one month since workers began repairing the pier. On March 14th, ATZ first reported the repairs underway. In an email to ATZ, Meghan Lalor of the Parks Department Press Office wrote: “The entire Steeplechase Pier is being reconstructed. We expect to complete construction by July 4.”

UPDATE April 14, 2013

Today’s Photo Update: Sunken Barge at Steeplechase Pier in Coney Island

UPDATE April 24, 2013

The post-Sandy reconstruction of Steeplechase Pier is back up to speed after a construction barge sank on April 13: “Photo Album: Coney Island April 2013 Construction Update”, ATZ, April 24, 2013

Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island

FDNY Marine 6 on the scene at sinking barge, Steeplechase Pier, Coney Island. April 13, 2013. Photo © Jim McDonnell

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 14, 2013: Photo of the Day: Repairing Sandy-Damaged Steeplechase Pier

October 31, 2012: Photo Album: Hurricane Sandy’s Aftermath in Coney Island

August 10, 2012: Steeplechase Plaza Under Construction in Coney Island

August 24, 2010: Video: Coney Island Pier Divers by Kevin C Downs

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sea Rabbits

Sea Rabbits. Photo © Dr. Takeshi Yamada at the Coney Island Sea Rabbit Repopulation Center

The sea rabbits that swam ashore on Coney Island beach near West 28th Street on Easter Sunday will be up for adoption today. This unique sea-dwelling rabbit was believed to be extinct in the wild until yesterday, when two fishermen walking west on the beach towards Sea Gate saw several of the web-footed rabbits scurrying ashore. “I couldn’t believe my eyes,” said Mikey, a resident of Avenue U, who had come to Coney to fish from the pier but found it closed for repairs. A local animal rescue group picked up the sea rabbits and plans to put them up for adoption or foster care.

ATZ was unable to reach Dr. Takeshi Yamada, the world-renowned expert on the species, for comment on the discovery. Yamada is currently filming the AMC TV reality series “Immortalized.” According to his research, the sea-rabbit is a close relative of the sea lion, and was officially discovered and investigated by Henry Hudson when he first visited this land to colonize the area for the Dutch government. Coney Island was named Conyne Eylandt –Rabbit Island– by the Dutch.

The above photo shows two sea rabbits which are in Dr. Yamada’s care at the Coney Island Sea Rabbit Repopulation Center in Brooklyn, New York. They are Coney Island Sea Rabbit (Monafluffchus americanus) called “Seara” and Coney Island Tiger-striped Sea Rabbit (Monafluffchus konjinicus) called “Stripes.”

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March 17, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island Getting Ready for Opening Day

January 14, 2013: Landlord Evicting Famous Coney Island Cat and His Humans

April 12, 2012: Cat Photo of the Day: Pretty the Cat Visits the Thunderbolt

April 6, 2010: Photo Album: Yes, We’re Open! Easter Sunday in Coney Island

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Friscia Pharmacy

Friscia Pharmacy, Mermaid Ave at W 15th St, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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“Mermaid Avenue that’s the street where the sun and storm clouds meet,” wrote Woody Guthrie in his 1950 song “Mermaid’s Avenue.” Four months after Superstorm Sandy devastated Coney Island, ATZ took a drive down the neighborhood’s shopping street to see how many stores had reopened. Our impression, seconded by people who live or work in the neighborhood, was about 70 per cent.

“A lot more places have opened up. It’s a credit to the Mom and Pops,” said Eric Levy, editor of Astella Action News. The local newspaper is published by Mermaid Avenue’s Astella Development. The not-for-profit community organization was one of several that lost everything and is currently sharing a trailer on West 17th Street with the Alliance for Coney Island, Coney Recovers, Project Hope and Brooklyn Community Services. Levy says they expect to move back to their rehabbed storefront at 1618 Mermaid Avenue next month.

7 N 7 Suprette

7 N 7 Suprette, Open 24 Hours, 3030 Mermaid Avenue, Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The majority of the reopened stores are bodegas, drugstores, and small businesses like the local 7-Eleven lookalike in the photo above. Rebecca, whose family owns the pawn shop at Mermaid and West 21st Street, told ATZ that their store had a grand reopening party on December 15th. They brought in a pizza truck and gave out promotional items as well as raffle tickets for Nets games and cash cards.

It’s taking longer for some of the businesses that are part of the corporate world to rebuild after the storm. Among the stores that haven’t reopened yet are the MacDonald’s at 1403 Mermaid Avenue and 608 Neptune Avenue, which were still boarded up when we drove by. Cleanup efforts finally got underway over the past few days at the Mermaid Avenue restaurant. MacDonald’s Corporate Office did not respond to a request for comment. (A few days after this story was posted renovations started. In April they began hiring and expect to reopen in May.)

Citibank

Citibank, Mermaid Ave at W 30th St, Coney Island. February 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Citibank at 3002 Mermaid also remains closed. “Our temporary Citibank branch will open in July as we rebuild our previous location, which was severely damaged after Hurricane Sandy,” Catherine Pulley of Citi Public Affairs told ATZ. “Citibank is deeply committed to our customers and the community of Coney Island. We are working as quickly as possible to return to our previous location and reopen our doors.”

Chase’s branch on Mermaid at 17th Street is also closed due to storm damage, but the bank set up a mobile branch on December 6 and currently does business out of a trailer in their parking lot.

Coney Island Library

Coney Island Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. Mermaid Avenue at 17th St. February 22, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The post office, which was operating out of trailer until about a week ago, has reopened. But the saddest story on Mermaid Avenue has to be the shuttered Coney Island Library. When we drove by it looked even more abandoned than it did in December. Ruined books litter the boarded-up, fenced off entryway. Urban Librarians Unite’s mini-library box inviting one to “Take a Free Book” stands empty. The Brooklyn Public Library’s Bookmobile service is provided on Thursdays from 11am to 4pm in front of the library, but the children who used the computers must miss them. The branch of the Brooklyn Public Library is not expected to reopen until October at the earliest.

A few weeks after Sandy, the Daily News reported that five Brooklyn libraries wrecked by Sandy will require $10 million in repairs with the Coney Island location being one of the most seriously damaged. 35,177 books and DVDs were lost. You can make a contribution to rebuild the library on the Brooklyn Public Library’s website. Make sure to select “Additional Options – I would like to direct my donation to Coney Island.”

This set of photos was taken on Mermaid Avenue on February 22, 2013, and on December 5 and November 17, 2012. The most recent photos are first…

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February 27, 2013: Coney Island’s 24-Hour Dunkin Donuts to Reopen in March

November 24, 2012: Coney Island Post-Sandy: A Few Stores Reopen, Most Delayed by Damage

October 29, 2012: Photos of the Day: Hurricane Sandy Approaches Coney Island

June 21, 2012: Photo Album: Mermaid Avenue Murals and Public Art

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Occupy Sandy

Twitter Page for Occupy Sandy’s Warehouse in Coney Island

Last week, Occupy Sandy said goodbye to 520 Clinton Street as their main distribution center and opened a warehouse in the basement of the landmarked Childs Building in Coney Island’s amusement area. Helpavists, as Occupy Sandy calls volunteers, pumped flood water out of the basement, which was still there two and half months after Sandy. They proudly took their first delivery of supplies: 600 gallons of water on 22 pallets from City Harvest.

Located on 21st Street, the site is steps away from the Parachute Jump and across the street from where the Seaside Summer Concerts are held in the summer and school buses park during the winter months. Unlike the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Clinton Hill, the Coney Island warehouse is not open to the public: “@OSWarehouse is NOT a public hub but a decentralized warehouse. Please visit http://www.occupysandy.org & @SandyRegistry to support our efforts!”

According to the Coney Island page on Occupy Sandy’s website: “In Coney Island, the main volunteer hub that we are working out of is across the street from 2828 Neptune Ave. We are currently organizing volunteering events on certain days – but the location is not open regular hours. So, in order to volunteer to help with canvassing and supply distribution in Coney Island, please register as an Occupy Sandy volunteer and we will send you emails when volunteering events are scheduled in Coney Island.”

Designated a New York City landmark in 2003, Coney Island’s terracotta palace by the sea has been boarded up for the past few years after being enlivened by the Mermaid Parade Ball and Lola Star’s Dreamland Roller Rink. The rink operated rent-free on the Boardwalk side of the property for two years until 2010, when the high cost of insurance caused leaseholder Taconic Investment Partners to shutter the space. In August, there was news that the City planned to develop the building and an adjacent lot into an entertainment complex for Borough President Marty Markowitz’s Seaside Summer Concerts, but an official announcement has yet to be made.

UPDATE September 26, 2013:

The City’s plan to convert the former restaurant into an amphitheater for live concerts is now working its way through City Planning and the City Council approval, though it was voted down by the community board. “Clock Ticking on Plan for the Landmark Childs Building,” ATZ, September 25, 2012.

Related posts on ATZ…

December 7, 2012: Photo Album: Signs of the Times in Post-Sandy Coney Island

November 4, 2012: Coney Island Post-Sandy: A Few Stores Reopen, Most Delayed by Damage

November 9, 2012: Update on Coney Island’s Amusement Area After Sandy

August 24, 2012: New Life for Coney Island’s Terracotta Palace by the Sea

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Usually we tweet event listings instead of posting them on the blog, which is why you should be following ATZ on twitter. Today is an exception since there happens to be a trio of Coney Island special events outside of Coney, where it’s freeeezing on the Boardwalk. The three events are pretty much at the same time so you’ll have to choose…

“Last Summer at Coney Island” at Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture

When “Last Summer at Coney Island” premiered in August 2010 at BAM, the audience got teary eyed during the scene in which Astroland’s lights were extinguished, ride by ride, for the final time, and the illuminated Astrotower made its last descent. The award-winning documentary by JL Aronson chronicles changing times in Coney Island with riveting scenes featuring Thor Equities CEO Joe Sitt and Astroland owner Carol Hill Albert, among others. The film ends with the City Council passing the rezoning in July 2009. Presented as part of the Film Wax series “Brooklyn Reconstructed,” the screening will be followed by a discussion with the film-maker and Nate Bliss of the Alliance for Coney Island and NYC Economic Development Corporation about how Coney Island is faring today.

Wednesday, January 23rd at 7:00pm at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, 53 Prospect Park West in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY, 11215. Suggested $5 donation.

Coney Island Circus Sideshow at the Slipper Room

While Coney Island USA’s theater is closed for renovations after flood damage from Superstorm Sandy, the Coney Island Sideshow is performing on Wednesday nights all winter long at the Slipper Room. This week’s stars are knife-thrower extraordinaire The Great Throwdini and his target girl Lynn, and sword swallowers and fire eaters Kryssy Kocktail and Adam Realman. Last week Adam debuted the sensational act shown in the video — blowing up a hot water bottle till it bursts!

Wednesday, January 23rd. Doors at 7:00 pm, Show at 8:00 pm. Slipper Room, 167 Orchard St, New York, NY, 10002. Over 21. Tickets $10.

Brews for the New York Aquarium at Brooklyn Brewery

Sponsored by the Young Patrons Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Wednesday’s “Brews for NYAQ” is a fundraiser for the New York Aquarium, which is also closed due to damage from Sandy. The event includes drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and a presentation at 8:30pm by Jon Forrest Dohlin, WCS Vice President and Director, New York Aquarium. In Charles Denson’s film shown above, Dohlin dives Coney Island Creek in a Mark V diving helmet. The film was shot several days before the hurricane and the flooding of the Creek.

Wednesday, January 23rd from 7:30pm-10:30pm. Brooklyn Brewery, #1 Brewers Row, 79 North 11th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249. Tickets $50 online, $65 at door.

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 10, 2012: Coney Island Nonprofits Begin to Raise Funds After Sandy

December 7, 2012: Photo Album: Signs of the Times in Post-Sandy Coney Island

November 24, 2012: Coney Island Post-Sandy: A Few Stores Reopen, Most Delayed by Damage

November 9, 2012: Update on Coney Island’s Amusement Area After Sandy

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