Two activists opposed to the Bloomberg administration’s plan to redevelop Coney Island were talking about a new alliance this week just prior to Tuesday night’s public scoping meeting held at Abraham Lincoln High School.
Brian Gotlieb of the group Coney Island CLEAR (Community & Labor Empowerment Alliance for Redevelopment) told the Bay News that he was “disappointed” with groups like Diana Carlin’s Save Coney Island organization because while championing the amusement district, they had not addressed the need for affordable housing in the redeveloped Coney Island.
“You can’t have one without the other,” Gotlieb said. “Coney Island is known for its amusement area – that’s the engine that drives the bus,” he said. “We also need to address the needs of the community.”
Carlin reacted angrily to the charge and called Gotleib’s criticism about community concern “ridiculous.”
“That’s my passion,” she said. “That’s all we’re about. Obviously, the focus of my attention is the amusement district. But if he wants to join forces, I wish he’d give me a call. This is a time when all of us should be coming together.”
Carlin, who operates the Lola Staar Souvenir Boutique on the boardwalk, and who last year defied developer Joe Sitt’s efforts to evict her, previously supported the Empire Development Corporation’s plan to rezone Coney Island – along with others like Coney Island USA director Dick Zigun.
But that was before the city decided in April to shrink the amusement district from 16 acres to nine.
Zigun has since resigned from the Coney Island Development Corporation.
“Even though Zigun and Carlin are focusing in terms of the amusement area, they’ve gone from supporting it to opposing it,” said Gotlieb, who opposed the city’s redevelopment plans all along on the grounds that they failed to adequately address the need for affordable housing in Coney Island.
On Monday afternoon, Gottlieb said that he had contacted Carlin and that the two agreed to sit down and discuss working together in opposing a redevelopment plan they both believe shortchanges Coney Island.
“I think we’ll have more of an impact together then two groups going on their own,” Gotlieb said. “Unity is strength.”
This week New York ACORN called on the Bloomberg administration to include more affordable housing in its plans for Coney Island while also urging Taconic Investment Partners to commit to building more affordable housing on its properties.
“For years people have been fighting about the future of the Wonder Wheel, the Mermaid Parade and the Boardwalk,” said Carmen Gonzalez, a Coney Island resident and member of ACORN. “Lost in the debate is the fact that the Bloomberg administration and Taconic Investment’s plan will price out thousands of existing residents of Coney Island.”