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Recchia is the true Coney phony

The Brooklyn Paper
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Now you can add more than $40 million to the hundreds of millions that city taxpayers will buck-up so that Mayor Bloomberg can pretend that he is doing something to “save” Coney Island.

The new fee comes in the form of a payoff to Coney Island’s City Councilman Domenic Recchia, who had long opposed the mayor’s scheme to rezone the current amusement area to allow for a wider array of all-year entertainment, plus housing, hotels and retail shops.

We shared Recchia’s opposition to the city plan, mostly because it calls for the city to spend more than $100 million to acquire land from Joe Sitt, who also says he wants to turn Coney Island into a 24-7-365, Vegas-style entertainment, hotel and retail complex.

The main difference between Sitt’s plan and Bloomberg’s is that Sitt owns the land in question. City officials have long said that they don’t trust Sitt to do the job right, but the city controls its own zoning and, as such, has ultimate control over what Sitt could build there.

We have long argued that rather than spending more than $100 million to buy out Sitt, the mayor should have used his zoning leverage to broker a better deal with Sitt — a deal that would then go through the normal public-review process.

Then there would be no need for the current flaws in the mayor’s plan: huge land acquisition costs, bringing in outside amusement developers, or needing the approval of sclerotic Albany so the city can demap some existing parkland near Keyspan Park for housing.

For months, Recchia shared our apprehension about the mayor’s rezoning scheme. But this week, he got his payoff. As Mike McLaughlin reported on BrooklynPaper.com on Wednesday, Recchia gave his vote to the mayor after receiving a promise of a new emergency room at Coney Island Hospital, a new gym for a nearby elementary school and a new deluxe shark tank for the New York Aquarium.

Make no mistake: We are not opposing a better hospital ($30 million), a school gym ($5.5 million) or a fancy new home for our dorsal-finned friends (millions unclear). But if those improvements are truly necessary for Coney Island, they should be made as part of the normal budgeting process, not doled out simply to get the vote of an influential councilmember.

Once Recchia was on board, the full Council rolled over, voting 44-2 to back the mayor’s rezoning scheme.

The vote followed a disquieting pattern when large development projects are concerned — local lawmakers point out flaws and are then bought off.

But buying off Recchia and winning a rezoning in Coney Island has accomplished nothing in the immediate term — there are still no guarantees that the new zoning will actually bear fruit. Only developers and landowners can do that.

So if the city is going to play “Let’s Make a Deal” with our valuable public resources, why not make the deals with the people who actually have some control? In Coney Island, that’s Joe Sitt, not Domenic Recchia.

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Reader Feedback

Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
Disgraceful. The 44 Councilmembers who voted "yes" should be ashamed -- but of course, that's an emotion in short supply in that body.
July 30, 2009, 10:41 pm
linda from brooklyn says:
For once I find myself in agreement with your paper's editorial. I was at the City Council vote and it was sickening to hear the yes men and women call out "aye" or "yes" and outpouring of congratulations to their buddy Dominic. It was my first and last time to attend a Council meeting. New York City government is not democracy. It is an autocracy ruled by King Bloomberg. I applaud Charles Barron and Tony Avella for their No votes.
July 31, 2009, 12:28 am
jerry from coney island says:
Finallly the Brooklyn Paper has come to their senses. Recchia dosen't give a —— about Coney Island or the residents. He does his summers in Southamton on a waterfront Mini- Mansion on Peconic Bay. He has no worries. He voted himself a $12,500 raise in the City Council, He voted to extend term limits, He's for turning Brighton Beach's only Open Space Park, Seaside Park into Marty Markowitz's dream of a Commercial Amphitheater. Say good bye to the free concerts. They may throw you couple of free ones but that's it. It's going to be a Jones Beach, PNC Bank private commercial venue where promoters like Live Nation will charge $ 60 & up for tickets. Recchia you are really a BAD guy, self serving political HACK.
July 31, 2009, 12:42 pm
Danny from At Large says:
You have to look more closely at the city's zoning plan (not a development scheme) and Thor's scheme before lumping them together.
Thor has been suggesting to the public (and requesting - insisting on? - from the city while the rezoning plan was developing) denser and higher and more commercially variable development than what will be allowed under the new zoning (including a highrise hotel and vast, indoor water park).
Thor was smart to buy up property on spec - alledgedly made smarter by advance notice. The value of the property has changed with the economy. It looks like holding out for the inflated price, while not even hinting they would build under the new zoning, looks like bad business, bad citizenship, and bad PR for Thor and developers in general.
July 31, 2009, 2:35 pm
tony from brighton beach says:
Recchia is a real scumbag. He's killed the Coney Island amusement area, now he wants to kill the only open space green park - Asser Levy/Seaside Park in Brighton Beach. They should call this Councilman the Teflon Councilman, nothing he has done wrong for the Community sticks to him. If there is a Republican running against him this November , that person had gotten my vote. Recchia kisses Marty Markowitz's ass real good.And as far as being the Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee in the NYC Council, the only thing cultural about this Recchia is if he has eaten Dannon Yougurt for lunch.
Aug. 14, 2009, 11:47 am

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