City Will Use Eminent Domain to Seize Coney Island Land for New Amusements

Posted On Mon, September 28, 2015 By

Posted On Mon, September 28, 2015 By In Coney Island, Policy

Image © Daniel Fleming

Eminent domain, defined as “the right of a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use,” is typically enacted to build projects such as bridges, highways, or schools. But the De Blasio administration plans to use it to erect an amusement park. According to the Post, the city is “frustrated by stubborn Coney Island landowners” and “plans to seize property under the city’s rarely used power of eminent domain in order to spur long-stalled economic development in the People’s Playground.” The land in question is three vacant beachfront sites and two smaller adjacent sites on West 12th and West 23rd Streets that total 75,000 square feet, largely comprised of the 60,000-square-foot site where the original Thunderbolt once stood (immortalized in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall”). Under the plan, the Parks Department will oversee new amusements and amenities, details of which haven’t been shared.

Former Mayor Bloomberg began the task of revitalizing Coney Island, however he made a vow to never use eminent domain. Instead, in 2009, his administration paid a whopping $95.6 to developer Joe Sitt for seven acres of amusement-district property that would become the new Luna Park. The current administration says their decision to turn to eminent domain came from an inability to make “fair-market” deals with the property owners “after exhaustive efforts.” But affected business owners–one of whom told the Post, “It’s not nice to take people’s property. We live in America. We’re not communists here.”–don’t share this sentiment. And supposedly the local community board was not aware of the scheme. A public hearing is planned at Coney Island Hospital on October 19th at 1:30 p.m. to “solicit community input on the condemnation plan.”

[Via NYP]

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