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Archive for January, 2014

Boro Taxi

Seen on the B Train: Poster Promoting the Boro Taxi Program. January 29, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

“ONE’S A THRILL RIDE, THE OTHER IS A RIDE YOU’LL BE THRILLED WITH. #BOROTAXI,” according to this clever ad promoting Boro Taxi. Launched two months ago, the ads feature the new green taxis in front of iconic locations throughout the five boroughs, but the first time we spotted this one with the Coney Island Cyclone was yesterday on the B train. The Taxi & Limousine Commission says “The ads are designed to enhance public awareness of the program, while letting people know how and where they can most conveniently catch a Boro Taxi.”

However, a market analysis published in December showed 0 <1 drop offs and pickups per day in Coney Island. The study says that 11% of Boro Taxi drop-offs were in the Bronx, 22% were in Northern Manhattan, 32% were in Queens, 11% were in Brooklyn, and less than 1% were in Staten Island. The other 23% of drop-offs were in Manhattan’s Hail Exclusionary Zone. The Commission has licensed 6,000 green Boro Taxis, also known as the Street Hail Livery program, to serve areas of the city not commonly served by yellow medallion cabs. Have you hailed a Boro Taxi?

The Cyclone and the rest of Coney Island’s rides open for the season on Sunday, April 13th.

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 13, 2013: Photo Album: Gingerbread Coney Island in City Harvest Extravaganza

November 28, 2013: Photo Album: Parachute Jump Lights Way to Year-Round Coney Island

October 30, 2013: Photo Album: Four Transformations, One Year After Sandy

September 13, 2013: Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round

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Alley Cat Allies Boardwalk Cats Project

Alley Cat Allies Boardwalk Cats Project in Atlantic City. Photo via http://www.facebook.com/AlleyCatAllies

In November, ATZ began a series of posts about rescuing ‘Snow Coney’ and other cats in Coney Island, where strays and ferals live along the Boardwalk. While the cats are being fed by caregivers, they lack winter shelters and medical care. As we previously reported, both Disneyland in California and Atlantic City’s Boardwalk have model programs including feeding stations, shelters, and Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) to stabilize and manage the cat population.

Disneyland is home to a managed colony of 200 feral cats who dine at five discreet feeding stations and receive medical care in exchange for keeping the rodent population under control. While the Disneyland cats are only occasionally sighted by visitors, the Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats, founded by Alley Cat Allies in 2000, have become something of a tourist attraction. The national advocacy organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats cares for the feral cat colonies along the boardwalk as part of a city-endorsed Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program. We first heard of the Atlantic City cats after Sandy, when news reports documented their survival. The Coney Island cats also survived Sandy, but are being displaced by development. With the new year and the new pro-animal rights administration of Mayor de Blasio, we would like to see a program modeled on Alley Cat Allies Atlantic City Boardwalk Cats Project.

ATZ interviewed Alley Cat Allies Interim Programs Director, Aileen Walden, who has been instrumental in the Atlantic City program, to learn how her organization’s success can be replicated in Coney Island. Here is an excerpt:

Alley Cat Allies

Alley Cat Allies Boardwalk Cats Project in Atlantic City. Photo via http://www.facebook.com/AlleyCatAllies

Q: On your website it says Atlantic City Boardwalk’s famous cats draw visitors and admirers from all over the country. This is a really interesting and positive aspect. I would like to know how a feral colony can go from being kept secret by feral cat advocates or considered a nuisance by some locals to world famous and admired. This is a very good selling point for a project in Coney Island!

A: One of my favorite things to share with people is that in 2012, the Boardwalk Cats were named by Atlantic Coast Magazine as one of the top 10 attractions in Atlantic City. Whenever we are down at the Boardwalk, we are stopped by people who tell us that every time they visit Atlantic City, they make it a point to visit the Boardwalk Cats. We also have people who come regularly from Philadelphia, northern New Jersey and NY just to feed the cats. During high season, it’s not unusual for our staff and volunteers to be surrounded by a crowd of people asking us about the Boardwalk Cats and sharing stories of their love for their own cats.

Alley Cat Allies

Alley Cat Allies Boardwalk Cats Project in Atlantic City. Photo via http://www.facebook.com/AlleyCatAllies

Q: Can you tell me how many cats were originally at Atlantic City, the approximate size of the population over the years and today. If the cats are spayed and neutered, doesn’t the size of the colony dwindle or do new ferals and strays join the colony?

A: We had approximately 250 cats at the Boardwalk Colonies when we began. Over the years, we have handled 394 cats there (many within the first 3 years) which would be original colony members, kittens, friendlies that wandered in or were dropped and migration from other city colonies. There are now just 127 cats in those colonies and no kittens have been born in over a decade.

We have found relatively few abandoned cats over the years but there are a few. It’s important to prominently display the local ordinances against abandoning animals when you have colonies at public locations.

There is now a Seaside Heights NJ official colony that the mayor and local TNR group modeled after Atlantic City with support from ACA.

Alley Cat Allies

Alley Cat Allies Boardwalk Cats Project in Atlantic City. Photo via http://www.facebook.com/AlleyCatAllies

Q: How did you manage to get the support of the City for the program and organize the support and cooperation of businesses as well as people feeding the cats?

A: Perseverance, Professionalism and Persuasion. We were reasonably lucky in Atlantic City because early on the head of the Department of Health, Ron Cash, recognized the value of managing the breeding of the cats at the Boardwalk and that removing them wasn’t making a dent. He also recognized the public health and PR benefits of TNR. We also worked closely with the Atlantic County Humane Society who were well-known in the area.

The people feeding were the easiest to convince. Once people know the cats are safe and will remain, they are more than happy to help. The HS and DOH were helpful in relating to business owners who had concerns. The best advice I can give is find the people who care about animals who are opinion leaders. They are everywhere. Elected and appointed officials, media people, wealthy community members, prominent business leaders.

There is no single formula that will work in every community. You need to identify and build a coalition of support for the TNR program. You then need to identify and target the departments and administrators who are the decision-makers for TNR and for Animal Control. I don’t know if Coney Island is a state or federal park but if it is, you will need to identify the decision-makers for that park as well as trying to find sympathetic ears in the Borough. You have an advantage in NY because the Mayors Alliance supports and promotes TNR for outdoor cats and oversees the NYC Feral Cat Initiative, www.nycferalcat.org.

Here are some links to:
Advocating for TNR and humane programs for cats.
Starting a TNR program or organizing what was previously a lot of separate programs and people.

Here is a contact form to send Amusing the Zillion a private message about helping the Coney Island cats. Let us know if you’re interested in volunteering to help organize a TNR program in Coney Island or can provide post-op recovery space for a few days after surgery.

Related Posts on ATZ…

January 26, 2014: Save Coney! Adopt Steeplechase the Coney Island Bunny

January 18, 2014: Coney Island Bunny Rescued After 21 Days on The Run

January 8, 2014: Bunny Returns to Bulldozed Coney Island Garden, Kitten Euthanized

December 10, 2013: Update on Coney Island Cat ‘Snow Coney’ & His Family

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Coney Island Bunny

Steeplechase, Coney Island Bunny Rescued after 21 Days on the Run. January 26, 2014. Photo © Jozefa Cheman

Steeplechase, the Coney Island “coney” rescued after 21 days on the run, posed for her first official photo today. Want to “Save Coney” and give Steeplechase the bunny a home? This refugee from the bulldozed Coney Island Community Garden will be up for adoption after she is spayed next week.

William Leung, a volunteer with Rabbit Rescue and Rehab successfully “netted” the rabbit, whom he named Steeplechase, on January 18th after ten days of trying to befriend her with bananas and other treats.

“She is scheduled to be spayed next Wednesday,” said Leung, who visited the shy bunny today at New York City’s Animal Care and Control. Rabbit Rescue and Rehab, the New York City chapter of the House Rabbit Society, is the primary bunny rescue group that works with ACC. “Our volunteers go there every day to feed the rabbits,” Leung said.

A list of bunnies up for adoption in New York City is on the group’s petfinder page. Email nyc.metro.rabbits@gmail.com if you are interested in adopting Steeplechase.

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Related Posts on ATZ…

January 18, 2014: Coney Island Bunny Rescued After 21 Days on The Run

January 8, 2014: Bunny Returns to Bulldozed Coney Island Garden, Kitten Euthanized

December 10, 2013: Update on Coney Island Cat ‘Snow Coney’ & His Family

April 1, 2013: Sea Rabbits Swim Ashore in Coney Island, Up For Adoption

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 City Councilman Mark Treyger

Newly Elected City Councilman Mark Treyger at Coney Island Alliance Meeting. November 15, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Wednesday, City Council committee assignments were given out and Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island, Gravesend and Bensonhurst, was selected as Chairman of the new Committee on Resiliency and Recovery. In December, the newly elected councilman, together with Councilman Carlos Menchaca, whose neighborhood of Red Hook was also devastated by the storm, called for the creation of a committee dedicated to the oversight of Sandy recovery efforts.

Treyger was also selected to be a member of five other committees whose issues are crucial to Coney Island: Land Use, Parks & Recreation, Education, Aging, and Plannings, Dispositions and Concessions.

“I am honored to have been selected to chair this new and vital committee and I take this post very seriously” said Councilman Mark Treyger. “This new committee will create a mechanism for greater oversight of Sandy recovery efforts in our city and ensure that allocated funds are spent on rebuilding impacted communities, strengthening our infrastructure to build up our resiliency, and preparing our coastal communities for future storms. The city’s recovery efforts thus far have simply not been fast enough.”

Last June, the City released “A Stronger, More Resilient New York,” a comprehensive plan for rebuilding the communities impacted by Sandy and increasing the resilience of infrastructure and buildings citywide.

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Snowy Coney Island Beach

Snowy Coney Island Beach with Parachute Jump. January 21, 2014. Photo © Bruce Handy

While Manhattan’s avenues were snarled with slow-moving traffic during Tuesday’s snowstorm, Coney Island Beach was as tranquil as the moon. In this striking snowscape by Coney Island photographer Bruce Handy, Steeplechase Pier peeks out from behind snow-dusted rocks as the Parachute Jump shimmers in the distance.

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 9, 2013: Photo Album: First Snow of the Season in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

November 28, 2013: Photo Album: Parachute Jump Lights Way to Year-Round Coney Island

October 8, 2013: Photo of the Day: Sunset at Coney Island Pier by Bruce Handy

January 26, 2013: Winter’s First Snow in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

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Promenading at Midland Beach

Vintage Postcard: Promenading at Midland Beach, Staten Island. Collection Milstein Division, New York Public Library

Staten Island’s east shore, once home to amusement parks with roller coasters, Ferris wheels and carousels, could be awhirl with seasonal rides again as early as this summer. A Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for the Staten Island Beachfronts by the City mentions amusement rides at Midland Beach as well as carnivals, rides and stall-based amusements among over 30 suggested uses at 8 different sites. Respondents are encouraged to submit proposals for these ideas as well as others that they believe are suitable but not mentioned in the RFEI.

Big Mark’s Action Park and NY Carousel Entertainment LLC were among the amusement park operators eyeing the property in recent site visits held by the City’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Parks Department. Proposals are due on Tuesday and some of the ideas are expected to be activated in summer 2014.

Midland Beach Site Opportunity Diagram

Carousel and Kiddie Rides in Midland Beach Opportunity Site Diagram, Staten Island Beachfronts RFEI, December 13, 2013. NYCEDC

Six concrete pads for future amusement rides with electrical utilities already installed are mentioned in the Midland Beach Site Opportunity section of the RFEI. The diagram above shows the pads occupied by a carousel, magic castle, sky glider, mini airport and spinning teacups circled by a trackless train, though these are just examples. There’s also a pad for a concession building with attached public restrooms, which are under construction.

Staten Island site visit attendee Mark Zientek of Big Mark’s Action Park says, “We put together some ideas we’re really excited about. We think the beachfronts offer a lot of promise.” Zientek is the owner of a long-established amusement rental and special events production company whose clients include AT&T, HBO, and Turner Construction. He’s also chairman of ROAR (Responsible Operators of Amusement Rentals) and a NAARSO (National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials) certified maintenance technician. Big Mark’s proposal is a two-phase plan, with an initial emphasis on participatory attractions for children like Little Mark’s climbing wall and slide, and a mechanically operated ride that lets the riders control the speed of the spin. A zip line and other action-oriented attractions are part of phase two.

Great Roller Boller Coaster

Vintage Postcard: Great Roller Boller Coaster Amusement Co., South Beach, Staten Island. Collection Milstein Division, New York Public Library

Also attending the site visit were David Galst and Ami Abramson of NY Carousel Entertainment LLC, which operates two historic Queens carousels for the Parks Department in Flushing Meadows and Forest Park. Last year, the company added a mini-amusement park at Flushing Meadows including Queens’ one and only roller coaster, a family ride called the Corona Cobra. Could a coaster for Staten Island be next? Galst and Abramson are also managing directors with Ride Entertainment Group, which not only operates carousels but also installs coasters and other high thrill rides. Past projects include the 110-foot-high SkyCoaster at Luna Park’s Scream Zone in Coney Island and Gerstlauer’s new FireChaser Express at Dollywood, the first dual-launch family coaster in the U.S.

One of the questions from a respondent in the RFEI’s Q & A about zoning restrictions as to height partly answers whether a SkyCoaster or similarly tall ride would fly on Staten Island’s beachfront. The answer: “NYC Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks) structures are not subject to zoning restrictions. Structure heights are subject to the NYC Parks Commissioner’s discretion. The construction of new structures will not be permitted at the Miller Field Opportunity Site.” NY Carousel Entertainment did not reply to ATZ’s request for comment on their proposal for the Staten Island beachfront.

The Whip at Midland Beach

Vintage Postcard: Everybody Rides the The Whip at Midland Beach, Staten Island. Collection Milstein Division, New York Public Library

According to the NYCEDC, the primary purpose of the RFEI is to generate ideas to enhance and re-invigorate Staten Island’s public beachfronts and open spaces after Superstorm Sandy. Proposals may consider one or more of eight locations, for temporary, seasonal, and/or permanent activations for early summer 2014 as well as long-term projects. In addition to small-scale amusements, suggested project concepts include food trucks, vending machines, beer gardens, cafes, skate parks, surf schools, skating rinks, mini golf, driving ranges, batting cages, recreational and beach equipment rental, educational programming, public art activations, festivals, performances and markets.

South Beach was once home to Happyland Amusement Park (1906-1935) and other independently owned amusements. In 1955, a project to extend the Boardwalk and provide parking and playing fields led to New York City’s condemnation of properties where rides, eateries and other amusements had been for decades. Beachland Amusements (1941-2006) survived by moving inland. Midland Beach, just south of South Beach, had hotels, beer gardens, bathing pavilions, theaters, carousels, Ferris wheels and amusements. Vintage postcards in the New York Public Library show a variety of entertainments, including trapeze performances on the boardwalk and a boxing exhibition by the world-famous Rossow Midgets.

UPDATE June 25, 2014

Fantasy Shore Amusement Park in Midland Beach opened on June 28th with four rides: Tea Cups, Train, Frog Hopper and a mini-roller coaster christened the Verrazano Viper. Fantasy Shore is run by NY Carousel Entertainment, which also operates Fantasy Forest Amusement Park at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens.

UPDATE March 17, 2014

The Parks Department has issued an RFP (Request for Proposals) for the development and operation of a Children’s Amusement Park as well as the operation of mobile food units and souvenir carts in Midland Beach, with a 12-year term. A site tour is set for March 28, with a due date for proposals of April 16th.

The Rossow Midgets

The Rossow Midgets, Midland Beach, Staten Island, NY. Collection Milstein Division, New York Public Library

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Related posts on ATZ…

June 25, 2014: Amusement Rides Return to Staten Island’s Beachfront

April 24, 2013: Photo Album: Coney Island April 2013 Construction Update

September 4, 2012: Exclusive: McCullough’s Kiddie Park Closing After 50 Years in Coney Island

February 1, 2011: Bring Back the Whip! A Birthday Gift for William F Mangels

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Rabbit Rescue

Runaway Bunny Netted in Coney Island by William Leung of Rabbit Rescue and Rehab. January 18, 2014

The runaway bunny from the bulldozed Coney Island Community Garden was finally rescued today after 21 days surviving on its own. “Just caught it, here is a bunny ball!” said William Leung in a text message with an accompanying photo at 4pm on Saturday. He named the rabbit Steeplechase, after the famous amusement park.

Coney Island was of course named Conyne Eylandt –Rabbit Island– by the Dutch after the wild rabbits that lived here in the 17th century. But this white bunny with black ears is a Californian breed of domestic rabbit and has lived her entire life outdoors in the boardwalk garden. “It’s a girl, 7.8 lbs, all those carrots!” Leung said. After the rabbit ran off when the garden was bulldozed by developer iStar on December 28, she was seen intermittently, usually after dark.

Leung, a volunteer with Rabbit Rescue and Rehab, the New York City chapter of the House Rabbit Society, has spent the last 10 days trying to catch the elusive bunny with the help of gardener Carolyn McCrory “I’m exhausted,” he said when ATZ phoned on Saturday morning to ask how it was going. The Queens resident has been traveling once or twice daily from Astoria to Coney Island to leave food, water and shelter in an attempt to befriend and net the rabbit before the bitter cold temps return. Fellow rabbit owner Mindy Jackson also helped to feed the rabbit during the ten day ordeal.

Coney Island Bunny

Coney Island Bunny hiding out. January 16, 2013. Photo © William Leung

If you’re wondering How to Catch a Stray Bunny, Rabbit Rescue and Rehab says it may take several attempts before the bunny is comfortable enough to let you anywhere near him. Among the suggestions: “Sit or lie down and have carrots and alfalfa hay and banana on hand. Do not overfeed the bunny and do not leave these treat items behind for him—you want him to crave these special foods and you want him to associate them with only you. You also do not want him to gorge on them and thus not be interested when you return to try to catch him again.”

While the banana worked like a charm with another bunny, the Coney Island coney was Leung’s most difficult rescue yet, he says. First of all, the rabbit kept returning to its former home in the bulldozed garden but the site managers for amphitheater developer iStar Financial would not allow Leung access to the site, claiming liability issues. People who came to feed the feral cats inadvertently upset his plan to herd the bunny when they cut holes in the mesh fence for the cats, which the bunny also used to escape. After neighbors harassed him on Thursday, Leung grew increasingly frustrated with the situation, but said he would go out again this weekend. Luckily, he was successful today.

Rabbit Rescue and Rehab is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization whose primary goals are to rescue abandoned rabbits and find permanent indoor homes for them as well as to educate the public and assist humane societies. “We’re the primary bunny rescue group that works with ACC,” says Leung, referring to New York City’s Animal Care and Control. “Our volunteers go there every day to feed the rabbits.”

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Related Posts on ATZ…

January 8, 2014: Bunny Returns to Bulldozed Coney Island Garden, Kitten Euthanized

September 19, 2013: Photo of the Day: Coney Island Parakeets Go for a Walk

June 17, 2013: Photo of the Day: Paquito the Chihuahua in Coney Island

April 1, 2013: Sea Rabbits Swim Ashore in Coney Island, Up For Adoption

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