As New York City honored Jane Jacobs by renaming a portion of Hudson Street for her, a group of admirers — some sporting her distinctive eyewear in homage — showed up at today’s event to highlight the fact that the City’s current rezoning plan for Coney Island violates this urban visionary’s principles.
As City Council Speaker Christine Quinn spoke — joined by Manhattan borough President Scott Stringer, Representative Jerrold Nadler, New York State Senator Tom Duane, and City Councilman Alan J. Gerson — the Coney Island-loving Jane Jacobs fans, who were dispatched by local activist group Save Coney Island, held signs with the message: “Jane Jacobs would save Coney Island!”
Speaker Quinn acknowledged the presence of the Save Coney Island contingent in her public remarks:
I think that Jane Jacobs would be very happy that the Coney Island folks are here today. So thank you all for being here. And if anyone thinks Jane Jacobs’ tradition is dead, they could go to the City Council phone line, where Coney Island folks have been calling in on a regular, regular basis.
Earlier in the day, Save Coney Island released a statement from Jane Jacobs’s son, Ned Jacobs, in which he said he was “appalled” by the City’s rezoning plan for Coney Island.
“While I cannot speak on behalf of my mother, the late Jane Jacobs, or predict what she would think about particular proposals today, in my view, this rezoning plan for Coney Island does not appear to reflect the urban values and planning principles she espoused,” wrote Ned Jacobs, a community activist in Vancouver.
He urged Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Council “to prevent this dysfunctional, developer-driven proposal for the Coney Island amusement district from being adopted in its current form.”
The City’s current rezoning plan would obliterate Coney Island’s historic and distinctive character. The City’s plan rezones most of Coney Island, leaving only a narrow strip of 12 acres for a shrunken amusement park. It inserts four high-rise hotel towers — soaring up to 27 stories — into the very heart of the historic, low-rise, seaside amusement district. The placement of these towers invites developers to tear down some of Coney Island’s most historic buildings, some more than a century old.
“If the City really wants to honor the memory of Jane Jacobs, it should respect her ideas and fix its plan for Coney Island,” said Save Coney Island spokesman Juan Rivero. “Otherwise, it might as well rename Coney Island’s Surf Avenue ‘Robert Moses Way.’”
POST UPDATED 7/14