The New Coney Island - Brooklyn's Times Square by the Sea

Friday, July 31, 2009

Domenic's Press Release - A New Beginning for Coney Island

For too long, New York’s most historic and exciting neighborhood has been a shadow of the glory and glamour it once held. While New Yorkers and tourists still flock to Coney Island during the summer, the winter months are harsh.

Today is truly a historic day. By working together with Mayor Bloomberg, his administration and the community, we were able to develop a rezoning plan that will usher in a new era for this iconic neighborhood, guaranteeing that it will thrive every single day of the year.

This will mean year-round jobs that pay livable wages, as well as programs to place local residents in those jobs.

Thirty-five percent of new housing will be affordable, with 50 percent of that dedicated to Coney Island residents. This will include low-income senior housing, workforce housing and, most importantly, a home ownership program that will assist families with down payments, giving them the opportunity to purchase homes they can call their own.

We’re building a community center – Coney Island Commons – which will be run by the YMCA and will be 100 percent affordable.

Tourists will come from all over the world to visit, but not just for three months out of the year. Coney Island will continue to have exciting, world-class amusements and the New York Aquarium will become an even bigger draw, with a brand-new shark exhibit.

Students at PS 188 will have a gym, instead of having to play in the cafeteria, and land is being set aside to build a new school.

Abe Stark Rink will remain open until a new replacement rink is built nearby, and a commitment has been made to renovate the world-famous Boardwalk.

We have secured $30 million for Coney Island Hospital to renovate the emergency room and make other improvements to handle the capacity of current and future residents and visitors. There is more than $137 million allocated for much-needed upgrades to the peninsula’s infrastructure to alleviate sewage and drainage problems that have been affecting Coney Island for years.

In the course of new construction we are ensuring there will be no big-box stores, and we will begin the process of landmarking the Shore Theater, one of Coney Island’s historic buildings.
Let me be clear: Any single one of these things would be a huge benefit to Coney Island. The fact that the commitment has been made to provide all of these is truly remarkable.

This has been a long process filled with hours of meetings and public testimony. While I believe that it’s impossible to make everyone happy – and anyone who tries to do so is doomed to failure – with this plan we have managed to apply our strongest ideas and move forward.

I have been working on this redevelopment for eight years. Today is the day I can proudly say that the City Council has made the commitment to restoring the glory and the glamour of Coney Island’s past, and guaranteed a bright future that maintains the character of the community.
Negotiations with the Bloomberg administration have resulted in a number of agreements that will benefit the more than 50,000 people who live in Coney Island – benefits that will travel up through all of Brooklyn and the rest of the city. Those agreements are detailed below:

A commitment has been made to ensure that Coney Island residents have access to year-round jobs that pay livable wages. Minority/Woman Business Enterprise participation and apprenticeship programs will be encouraged in the community. Working in conjunction with Kingsborough Community college and other local groups, a workforce training program will be set up to serve more than 400 area residents. Job fairs will be hosted in Coney Island, sponsored by Councilman Recchia, the CIDC and local groups, and Workforce Center Outreach teams will be dispatched to provide screening and job placement services.

Under the rezoning, 35 percent of new housing will be designated as affordable, and Community Board 13 residents will have priority for 50 percent of those new units. Affordable housing will include a mix of low-income senior housing, middle-income housing, workforce housing and home ownership programs.

In addition, the plan will include Home First, a mortgage down-payment assistance program, which will give preference to Community Board 13 residents for up to 10 homes per year at $15,000 per home, totaling $750,000 over 5 years.

Abe Stark Rink will remain open, with schedules for ice hockey leagues and open skating uninterrupted until a new replacement rink is built nearby, at a location to be determined.
There is funding in place for reconstruction of the Boardwalk, and a commitment has been made for developing a schedule to replace the entire Boardwalk.

In addition, funds have been allocated for reconstruction of Dreier-Offerman/Calvert Vaux Park, which will add synthetic turf soccer fields, new park pathways, sports field lighting, pedestrian lighting, improved park drainage, water fountains, landscaping and a new comfort station.

Wonder Wheel Way has been modified from a 56-foot street to a 30-foot pedestrian walkway, between West 15th and West 16th streets, and between West 12th and West 10th streets. This will permit more room for amusements and keep cars out of areas where there will be a large number of pedestrians. This will permit the Vourderis family, which has operated the ride for generations, to keep the Wonder Wheel running.

There is $5.5 million in the Department of Education’s Fiscal Year 2010-2014 plan for a new gym at PS 188. There has also been a site designated on the northeast corner of Surf Avenue and West 29th Street to build a new school.

The historic Shore Theater is calendared to be landmarked.

We have secured $30 million for Coney Island Hospital to renovate the emergency room, as well as make other improvements, in order to handle the capacity of current and future residents and visitors.

Money has been allocated to build a world-class shark exhibit at the New York Aquarium.

Work is progressing on a sewage and drainage plan, and DEP is allocating more than $137 million to initiate design and construction of the drainage plan, with additional funding in later years as the project moves forward. In addition, a new supermarket will be built, big box stores will be discouraged, and the Human Resources Administration office, which is located in Coney Island, will be relocated within the neighborhood. Gargiulo’s will be able to expand, so that the Russo family can continue to provide jobs and a catering hall to the community.

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