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Posts Tagged ‘rezoning’

View of Surf Avenues Henderson Building and Shore Hotel from Stillwell Station. Owned by Thor Equities, these historic structures are  endangered by the city’s plan proposes four high-rise hotels of up to 27 stories along the south side of Surf Avenue. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

View of Surf Avenue's Henderson Building and Shore Hotel from Stillwell Station. Owned by Thor Equities, these historic structures are endangered by the city’s rezoning plan allowing four high-rise hotels of up to 27 stories along the south side of Surf Avenue. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

I’m happy to report the adorable-looking, headline-grabbing 5- legged puppy was “saved” from being sold to a Coney Island freak show. Now can we please grab your attention for a minute to Save Coney Island? The grassroots group Save Coney Island has called a rally on Sunday, July 26, at 1 p.m. in Columbus Park by the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall.

Juan Rivero of Save Coney Island told ATZ:

With the City Council set to vote on the plan this coming Wednesday, this rally is the public’s last chance to make its voice heard.

We are calling for more acres to be devoted to outdoor amusements, for the removal of the four high-rise hotel towers proposed for the south side of Surf Avenue, and for the preservation of Coney Island’s historic buildings. We share the hope and expectation expressed at the land use committee hearing by Council members Recchia, Katz, and others that the City will address our concerns through negotiations before the full Council vote.

If you live in NYC please phone AND email your City Council member, Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg. Remember, they are running for re-election in November and want your vote. Do they want to go down in history as the city officials who KILLED CONEY ISLAND? Of course not!

To find your City Council member, type your address on the City’s Council’s info page.

If you do NOT live in NYC, please send a DON’T KILL CONEY email to Mayor Michael Bloomberg
email:http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html
or phone 311 (1- 212-NEWYORK outside of the city) and
leave a “Comment for the Mayor.”

Visit Save Coney Island’s website for more info.

As for the 5- legged puppy story, I was dismayed to see the LA Times story “Coney Island freak show owner vows to fight for ownership of 5 legged puppy” knock the HuffPost editorial “How Mayor Bloomberg is Killing Coney Island” from the #1 slot in a Google search of “Coney Island.” The puppy was a featured attraction in yesterday’s NY Times, NY Post, NY Daily News and amNew York, as well as papers as far away as Ethiopia and New Zealand.

I’m pretty sure Coney Island sideshow operator John Strong’s threat to sue the puppy’s owner and reattach the dog’s amputated fifth leg is a publicity stunt. I kinda liked his earlier, more philosophical comment “Sometimes, you just gotta say: ‘OK, I still have nine live, two-headed animals,’ and move on.” Yes, let’s move on to Save Coney Island. It may be our last chance.

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Joey Sitt Plays with Bulldozers in His Coney Island Sandbox. Art by Tiny Tim

Joey Sitt Enjoys Playing with Bulldozers in His Coney Island Sandbox. Art by Tiny Tim

Some toddlers never grow up. Meet Joey “Bulldozer” Sitt, CEO of Thor Equities, largest landowner in Coney Island. After a City Council Subcommittee passed Mayor Bloomberg’s rezoning plan today, Sitt told the NY Post, “I’m the guy who controls this – it’s my sandbox.” He added that he would be willing “to share my sandbox with my friend Mayor Mike.”

Translation: Lawyers for Joe Sitt and the City’s Economic Development Corporation are wheeling and dealing behind closed doors. The deal is that Sitt would sell at least half of his Coney property to the City and keep the rest to develop or flip. With most favorable zoning of course!

Thanks to graphic artist Tiny Tim for sending us the photo collage of Joey demolishing Coney Island’s go-karts, batting cages, bumper boats, and mini golf. Creating empty lots in Coney is this CEO’s favorite outdoor activity. The Astrotower is still standing because Sitt said he “fell in love” with it and wants to keep it.

Hey, we love the Astrotower too. We also believe Coney Island is the People’s Sandbox, not Joe Sitt’s. Give it back to us, you bully.

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Related posts on ATZ…

April 5 2011: Thor’s Coney Island: Joe Sitt Scores Puff Piece in NY Times

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

February 10, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Amusement Operators Balk, Money Talks at Stillwell

June 4, 2009: Coney Island Ride Count: Veteran Ride Ops 40, Joe Sitt 10!

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Councilman Domenic Recchia Reading Save Coney Island Brochure at City Council Hearing.  Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Councilman Domenic Recchia Reading "Save Coney Island" Brochure at City Council Hearing. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

At the July 1 City Council hearing on the City’s rezoning plan, Coney Island’s Councilman Domenic Recchia took a moment to study Save Coney Island’s pitch. The brochure, which you can download here, urges people to contact their elected officials and ask them to fix the plan. Save Coney Island recommends expanding the area for open-air amusements, moving the high rises from the south side of Surf Avenue, landmarking Coney’s historic buildings, and protecting small businesses.

Will these proposals make it into the revised plan that a City Council subcommittee votes on next week prior to a full Council vote on July 29? No one from Save Coney can say with certainty. Although the group’s reps met with sympathetic council members, they’ve been unable to get face time with Speaker Christine Quinn or Land Use Chair Melinda Katz.

Says Juan Rivero of Save Coney Island, “There is no surer way to ensure that the outcome of a negotiation will not be to your liking than to fail to participate in the negotiations. And thus far, we haven’t been invited to the table.”

Among those who have been invited to the table are labor unions, affordable housing advocates and property owners, notably Thor Equities. ATZ is worried that the City, which failed to appease Thor with the current compromise plan, will come to an even worse compromise with Thor to pass the rezoning. For the past two summers we’ve been documenting the real estate speculator’s deliberate emptying out and desecration of the amusement zone in the flickr set “Thorland.”

Tables & chairs for Thor Equities flea market across the way from shuttered Balloon Race Game. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Tables & chairs for Thor Equities flea market across the way from shuttered Balloon Race Game in Thor-owned Henderson Building, Bowery at Stillwell in Coney Island. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

No matter how the zoning goes, if anyone is under the misimpression that Joe Sitt will ever build anything here, just Google “Albee Square Mall” and “Thor Equities” and read about how he flipped the property and made $100 million after getting favorable zoning from the City. Just imagine how many millions Joe Sitt expects to make from selling the rezoned Coney Island!

The City Council hearing on the Coney Island rezoning plan was my first time inside City Hall. During the eight hour long proceeding— my two-minute slot didn’t come up until seven hours had gone by— I had plenty of time to contemplate a ceiling medallion that says: “A Government Of the People, By the People, For the People—Lincoln.” Apparently I wasn’t the only visitor impressed by this tribute to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Someone mentioned it in his testimony. Councilman Tony Avella, Chair of the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises replied, “I hate to tell you how many times we don’t do that, but hopefully we can do it in this situation.” We hope so too.

A Government of the People, By the People, For the People--Lincoln. Ceiling of City Council Hearing Room, City Hall, NYC. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

A Government of the People, By the People, For the People--Lincoln. Ceiling of City Council Hearing Room, City Hall, NYC. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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In the video, Dick Zigun, founder and artistic director of Coney Island USA and the permanently unelected “Mayor” of Coney, asks YOU to contact your City Councilmembers to deliver the message “Don’t Kill Coney! Fix the Plan!”

“The City came up with an acceptable master plan, but at the same time, a private developer, Thor Equities, came in and purchased most of the property on the south side of Surf Avenue,” Zigun says in the video. “Thor Equities started lobbying and pressuring the city, and suddenly, the plan changed…there are some things in there that are frankly no good, and that’s the plan that’s going to be voted on at the end of July.”

Zigun’s recommendations include moving the 27-story high rises north of Surf Avenue, a change endorsed by the Borough President and Community Board; expanding the acreage for outdoor rides and amusements; and protecting Coney Island’s historic structures instead of creating financial incentives for tearing them down.

“Politicians DO listen to the public. Make some noise; July is the month,” says Zigun, who rallied on the steps of City Hall last month with the grassroots group Save Coney Island.“The future of Coney Island is being decided now. It’s an American treasure; let’s develop it the right way, the good way.”

To find your City Councilmember, type in your street address and borough on the City Council’s About page.

An email blast posted on Coney Island USA’s website urges people to make three phone calls by Monday, July 13, the City Council’s deadline for requests for changes to the City’s plan.

Call #1:
If you want to help save Coney Island, PLEASE CALL your City Council member TODAY (the sooner the better!).

Call #2:
Call your friends. If everyone forwards this to three friends and the chain continues, we can affect change to this plan!

Call #3:
If you REALLY want to Save Coney Island, also call Speaker Christine Quinn and deliver the same message.
Christine Quinn’s legislative office: (212) 788-7210.

PASS THIS ON TO YOUR FRIENDS. WE NEED ALL THE HELP WE CAN GET!

If you are not a New York City resident, ATZ suggests that you phone and leave a comment for Christine Quinn, the Speaker of the City Council. Legislative Office Phone (212) 788-7210. We also recommend calling 311 (1- 212-NEWYORK outside of NYC) and leaving a “Don’t Kill Coney! Fix the Plan” comment for the Mayor.

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 18, 2009: Ciao Coney Island! Will Ruby’s, Shoot the Freak, Astrotower & Other Oldies Survive?

October 9, 2009: A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island

July 27, 2009: Tall, Skinny & Destined to Kill Coney Island: High Rises on South Side of Surf

June 11, 2009: Coney Island Amusement Advocates Rally for More Acreage for Outdoor Rides

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Councilman Domenic Recchia & Borough President Marty Markowitz at Opening Night of Ringling Bros Circus in Coney Island. Photo by Pablo57 via flickr

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Councilman Domenic Recchia & Borough President Marty Markowitz at Opening Night of Ringling Bros Circus in Coney Island. Photo by Pablo57 via flickr

photo via pablo57, flickr

At Thursday’s dazzling opening night of the Ringling Bros. Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus, a cavalcade of politicians stepped into the ring with the performers in a Salute to Coney Island. Mayor Bloomberg, who was presented with a ringmaster’s top hat, remarked that he worked in “the Second Greatest Show on Earth”—politics.

The Mayor spent $84.5 million to win the last election. This time round aides say he plans to spend up to $100 million after successfully overturning the term limits. I’ve already received more than a dozen campaign calls and fliers. On opening night at the circus in Coney, I was surprised to see Boom A Ring Boulevard (21st Street) lined with electioneerers holding clipboards and campaign signs that read “Brooklyn for Bloomberg.” Inside the circus, my friend was stunned to encounter men in suits trying to hand out Mayor Mike brochures to people waiting to use the Port-O-Potties during intermission.

The Mayor and city officials deserve a standing ovation for bringing Ringling Bros. to Coney Island after the circus’s negotiations with greedy landlord Joe Sitt of Thor Equities fell through. But if the Mayor wants to win my vote, he must first Save Coney Island’s amusement zone from Joe Sitt’s desecration.

What about the $60 million difference between Sitt’s asking price and the City’s “final offer” for the People’s Playground? Bloomberg the philanthropist could chip in anonymously as he has done when giving $175 million intended for the City’s not-for-profits to the Carnegie Corporation. Or considering the city’s budget constraints, perhaps Bloomie could pay the entire $165 million and we’ll name a new roller coaster after him.

Electioneering at the Circus. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Electioneering at the Circus. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

What’s the advantage of re-electing a billionaire mayor who is the nation’s no. 1 philanthropist (donated $235 million in 2008) if he can’t save Coney Island from being gutted during his administration by a predatory real estate speculator?

Bloomberg the philanthropist told the NY Times, “As the economy took a turn from bad to worse, I felt it was the right time — the essential time — for someone like me, someone who’s been so fortunate in my own life, to step up and give back even more. I don’t think of it only as a responsibility, but as a privilege.”

Ask yourself this question: Is Coney Island better off or worse off since Bloomberg became Mayor? The Bloomberg administration started this Coney Island rezoning hoopla that triggered Joe Sitt’s destructive buying spree. The Mayor is obligated to set things right.

It’s time for Bloomberg the philanthropist to buy the People’s Playground and give it back to the People of New York!

Astroland Receives Last Rites. Savitri D,  Dick Zigun, and Reverend Billy put the developer in charge of this travesty on trial. Sept 7, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Astroland Receives Last Rites. Savitri D, Dick Zigun, and Reverend Billy put the developer in charge of this travesty on trial. Sept 7, 2008. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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