Coney Island Luminaries Urge City to Fix Rezoning Plan at Borough Hall Rally

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The WCBS report on the rally:

Leading members of Coney Island’s amusement and entertainment communities gathered on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall Sunday afternoon for a rally urging City officials to fix the current flawed rezoning plan for Coney Island.

The rally came as the City Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the Bloomberg administration’s flawed rezoning plan for Coney Island. The plan would radically shrink Coney Island’s famed amusement district. It would insert four high-rise hotel towers — rising up to 27 stories — in the heart of the historic amusement district. And it would encourage developers to demolish some of Coney Island’s most historic buildings, including Nathan’s Famous.

“Coney Island is too important to be reduced to high-rises and a shopping mall,” said historian Charles Denson, executive director of the Coney Island History Project.

“All over the globe you have these parks that people have built that pay tribute to Coney Island,” said Save Coney Island spokesman Juan Rivero. “Here we have the real thing, and we’re about to let them shrink it to oblivion.”

Speakers at the rally also included Mermaid Parade founder and unofficial Coney Island “Mayor” Dick Zigun, Cylone roller coaster operator and former Astroland owner Carol Albert, Miss Cyclone Angie Pontani, Lola Staar Souvenir Boutique owner Dianna Carlin, activist and author Kevin Powell, Green Party mayoral candidate Rev. Billy Talen and burlesque artist World Famous *BOB*. Boardwalk bard Amos Wengler performed his anthem “Save Coney Island.”

Speakers at the rally urged the City to expand the number of acres allotted for open-air amusements, remove the proposed hotel towers from the south side of Surf Avenue, ensure a place in Coney Island for the small businesses that give the area its vitality, and preserve Coney Island’s historic buildings.

The Municipal Art Society and The New York Times editorial board have both urged that the proposed open-air amusement park be expanded and that the four high-rise hotel towers currently proposed for the south side of Surf Avenue be removed. Coney Island’s Community Board 13 also has requested that the high-rises be relocated.

“The City should fix its plan,” Rivero said. “And if it cannot fix this plan, it should have the perspective and the humility to kill the plan and try again, because it makes no sense to push it through at all costs when the cost will be the destruction of Coney Island forever.”

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