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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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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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