The hearing got off to an inauspicious start — the same tired, thirty minute presentation of the City’s plan, complete with number juggling, fantastical job projections, and inaccurate assertions. The council members, who had heard the same exact pitch three months earlier, were not impressed. One after the other, they challenged the City on its lack of progress on issues that should have been resolved by now (most notably, the acquisition of Thor’s land).
Several confrontations between council members and the City bear mention. Councilmember Recchia’s requested that the City get rid of the needless Wonder Wheel Way and thereby increase the area devoted to open air amusements. Councilmembers Avella and Felder, for their part, faced down the City’s arrogant threat that it’s “this or nothing” and that it’s “now or never”.
Those who stayed till the end of the seven hour hearing were treated to a final display of fireworks (days before Independence Day, no less). It came to light during one of the testimonies that the Coney Island Development Corporation (i.e., the City) had rented three buses to bring in people to speak in support of the City’s plan. Council members were not too happy about that. The busing, of course, is in keeping with the City’s longstanding practice of using City employees to collect petitions in support of their plan — of, in effect, purchasing the image of public support with public money. They must feel a need to resort to these ethically questionable practices in order to sell a plan that just about no one is happy with.
For our part, we had a great showing at hearings, and our message was heard loud and clear. Hundreds of brochures were distributed by the end of the day; and the call for more amusements and for no hotels south of Surf became a constant refrain throughout the period of public testimonies. Thanks to everyone who joined us!