A Message to Friends of Coney Island Regarding Save Coney Island’s Lawsuit Against the City

On Tuesday Save Coney Island served the City with a lawsuit seeking to overturn its flawed rezoning plan for Coney Island.

It is not a step we took lightly. Everyone agrees Coney Island needs to be revitalized. We strongly support some of the City’s recent actions, like purchasing land for amusements and issuing a request-for-proposals to get amusements in operation there by this summer. Our lawsuit would not stand in the way of either measure.

But while the City has taken positive short-term steps, its long-term plan would ruin Coney Island’s incredible potential. By shrinking the outdoor amusement area and walling it off with high-rise hotels, the City would destroy the dream of a world-class, revitalized Coney Island forever. Our lawsuit is intended to keep that dream alive.

We believe that the Bloomberg administration failed to examine realistic alternatives for the expansion of a viable amusement area. We also believe that the City failed to adequately study adverse impacts of its rezoning plan – including the destruction of historic buildings and view corridors by the placement of high-rise hotels on Surf Avenue. In failing to do these things, the City violated the law. That is the basis of our suit.

But the courts were not our first resort. During the rezoning process, we did everything we could to push the Bloomberg administration and the City Council to fix the flaws in the City’s plan. We delivered over 4,000 signatures to City Hall. We met with City officials and with members of City Council. We staged rallies and acts of political theater. We produced a short video that more than 8,000 people watched online.

Other voices also weighed in. The New York Times wrote two editorials calling on the City to change its plan. The Municipal Art Society submitted expert testimony arguing that the City’s plan would not create the world-class amusement area that New Yorkers deserve. Fifteen leading historians of New York City issued an open letter to the City Council, urging its members to make needed changes to the plan.

But the fix was in. At the time the City claimed that the high-rise hotels – placed in the very heart of the historic amusement district – were necessary for the development of new amusements in Coney Island.

But that argument is thoroughly discredited by the overwhelming response to the City’s recent call for operators interested in running amusements on land where no hotels are permitted. The truth is that the hotels were added in order to increase the value of Thor Equities’ land and try to buy this developer’s support for the Bloomberg administration’s rezoning plan. The passage of this plan was purchased at the risk of compromising the future of Coney Island.

Now it’s time for New Yorkers who care about Coney Island’s historic amusement district to fight back. We can’t win this without your help.

You can donate money to help fund the lawsuit by clicking on the “DONATE” link on our website. Thank you for your support.

You can volunteer your time according to your interests through one of Save Coney Island’s committees. Email info@saveconeyisland.net and put in the subject line “Volunteer” and one of the areas you would be interested in helping with:

– Communications/Outreach

– Fundraising/Events

– Preservation

– Website/Design

– Administration

And, perhaps most importantly, you can forward this e-mail and discuss it with friends, family members and colleagues who you think might be interested. Only by building a true movement can we hope to change the political climate that has led to this land grab in Coney Island’s amusement area. Only by joining together can we convince the City to start developing Coney Island the right way.

A revitalized Coney Island that is a living treasure for all New Yorkers – and a draw for visitors from around the world – is still possible. Let’s keep the dream alive. Please join us.

– Save Coney Island

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