This week the Save Coney Island crew gave a City Hall press conference to protest the proposed shrinkage of Coney’s 60 acres of amusement to 12. (“When properly programmed, 12 acres is a sufficient space,” says the New York City Economic Development Corporation.) They brought the usual suspects, including entrepreneur Dick Zigun, Miss Cyclone Angie Pontani, and a guy in a rabbit suit, and pitched “respect for our historic icons” as a “vibrant tourist attraction” issue, the political necessity for which we understand, though Coney is really more for natives than tourists. They worry that the current plan will perpetrate such indignities as the destruction of the current Nathan’s on Surf Avenue, to be replaced by a new “theme Nathan’s Restaurant at the base of a fifteen-story hotel,” which would play hell with the skyline.
Also opposing the city’s plan is developer Joe Sitt, who recently broke a long silence to tell people that he wants to use the Coney land he’s scarfed up and largely laid to waste to erect the usual monstrosities. (In recent weeks he has given us a rather pathetic “Festival by the Sea.”) He’s now trying to win New Yorkers’ hearts by saying he wants to preserve the Astrotower, with which he claims to have fallen in love, though he’s usually not so nostalgic about Coney landmarks.
If you’re thinking of going out there, Newsday today details some of the attractions still left at Coney Island.