CPC to Vote Shortly on Coney Island; MAS Calls for Zoning Changes, Broad Approach
June 11th, 2009, 10:35 am
The ULURP clock for the Coney Island rezoning proposal is ticking. The City certified the zoning proposal in January, and from May until later this month, the City Planning Commission is conducting its review of the proposal. The Commission is likely to vote on the project very soon, after which the proposal will go to the City Council who must vote on the plan by mid-August. MAS testified last month at the City Planning Commission’s public hearing, and shortly after we submitted detailed recommendations for the future of Coney Island. MAS strongly supports the city’s goal of revitalizing Coney Island. We also strongly support the city’s efforts to acquire land to create a publicly-owned open-air amusement park, based on an extensive economic study by real estate advisory firm RCLCo commissioned by MAS that concluded that this was the best way to ensure amusements in perpetuity. We do, however, have recommendations to improve the plan, which are detailed in our testimony. Our comments broadly fell into two categories. We commented directly on the zoning proposal, arguing that the City’s current plan need to be amended to: 1) remove the high rise buildings currently planned for the south side of Surf Avenue that would block visitors from the amusements and ocean; 2) expand the acreage dedicated to open-air amusements to ensure it accommodate the potential number of visitors and 3) protect historic buildings – like the Shore Theater and Nathan’s – that otherwise are at risk of demolition. But we also testified that successfully revitalizing the Coney Island Amusement District and addressing the broader needs of the wider community will require an approach broader than changing the zoning alone. For example, to successfully revitalize the amusement district would require considering the future of the Aquarium, figuring out a way to re-activate the Parachute Jump, protecting and reusing the once Broadway-quality Shore Theater, restarting express train service from Manhattan to Brooklyn and much more. Similarly, the need for jobs, services and infrastructure in the community must also be addressed within the context of a broader plan than the current zoning proposal. To its credit, the City has made significant progress on many of these fronts. However, MAS believes more improvements can be made to ensure Coney Island reaches its true potential as the World’s Playground once again. To download our full testimony, click here, and click here to see the results of our visioning effort from last year, Imagine Coney.