Dear XXXXXX, Marty Markowitz Cares About You and Coney Island. Really. (UPDATED!)
As previously reported, a whole host of iconic Coney Island spots, including Ruby's bar and Shoot the Freak, lost their licenses last week, which means they'll have to leave their long-held premises so that new [read: more profitable] blood [read: "a very large sports bar"] can take over. Folks against this move have been pretty vocal, rallying last Saturday, circulating an online petition, and emailing and calling Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. Guess what? Marty wrote back! UPDATED.
We have his response here. (Technically, it came from Andrew Steininger, Markowitz's capital budget/economic development specialist. Which kinda says it all.)
The letter appeared as a pdf attached to an otherwise empty bulk email directed to more than 50 folks whose email addresses were revealed for all to see (blind cc, anyone?). It read exactly as follows, XX's and all:
November 9, 2010
City State Zip
Thank you for reaching out to my office to express your concern for the businesses located on the world famous Coney Island boardwalk.
I have consistently held that Coney Island should be a mix of "old school" and hip, showcasing the best of Brooklyn and New York City while remaining freaky and fun. Zamperla U.S.A. and I share the same vision and commitment to providing a year-round destination for entertainment, retail and food that celebrate the ocean views and fabulous beachfront.
Change is often difficult. As a proud Brooklynite, I have deep respect for the boardwalk tenants that have kept the faith and endured during the lean years. Therefore, I am calling on the City to see if we can offer assistance to help find locations in the Coney Island area suitable for displaced tenants.
Can you imagine the draw it would be to have great, longtime Coney Island originals like Ruby's and Cha Cha's next to hot, local Brooklyn-born businesses like Super Wings, Blue Marble, the Brooklyn Flea, the Red Hook Vendors, and classics like Villabate Alba bakery and Junior's.
Once again, thank you for reaching out to my office. It is my belief that the best years are yet to come for our beloved Coney Island. Should you have any other questions please don't hesitate to contact my liaison to Coney Island, Mr. Andrew Steininger, at (718) 802-3877.
As one recipient noted in an email back to Markowitz and Steininger, "Lumping us all into one mass email with a letter stating, "Dear XXXX" is a little sloppy. I certainly do hope more care is given to finding new homes to our beloved businesses than was taken with distributing these letters." Also..."Wouldn't it just make more sense to keep these businesses where they are and build upon the empty lots along the boardwalk?"
If you missed last weekend's rally, Ruby's will be opening a final time this Saturday "due to overwhelming requests from our loving and loyal customers," they report on their Facebook page.
In addition, eight of the nine family-owned establishments facing eviction (all except Pio Pio Riko, which opened last year) are suing Zamperla, the company leasing the property from the city, "for misleading them into thinking they'd be back next summer," reports the New York Post.
Yesterday Amusing the Zillion reported that the businesses received letters extending the original November 15th deadline to vacate until November 19th. How generous!
UPDATE. Mark Zustovich, spokesman for Marty Markowitz, writes in:
"As should be obvious to the Voice, this letter was an initial draft and not finalized. Your insinuation that it was intended to be sent as such is disingenuous. The letter did not have names in the salutation because it was a draft, and while it was still being reviewed internally it was mistakenly sent out early by an intern using a staffer's email. You should also be aware that this informational letter is just one of the many ways the office is communicating with those businesses and constituents affected by this situation, many of whom we have been in contact with by phone, email and in person to address specific questions and concerns, and help those who wish to stay remain in Coney Island, if not on the boardwalk."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.