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Whether he deserves the thumbs-up or a raspberry for his role in shaping the redevelopment of Coney Island thus far, the clock is ticking down on New York City Councilmember Domenic M. Recchia’s time in office.
So, what do the Democratic trio of men seeking to win Recchia’s 47th Councilmanic District seat in 2009 think about the city’s plan to reinvent Coney Island?
Brian Gotlieb, former Community Board 13 chair and aide to Rep. Anthony Weiner, says he doesn’t like the plan because it doesn’t offer much to the residents actually living in Coney Island today.
“What’s in it for the people of western Coney Island other than seeing their rents doubled and tripled, and being priced out of their own community?” the Trump Village resident says.
With talk of 5,000 units of new housing being created under the redevelopment plan and no provisions in it for new schools, Gotlieb foresees an “explosion of students in Coney Island that will have a ripple effect throughout southern Brooklyn.”
“Where are these people going to send their children?” he warns.
Last year, Gotlieb’s “SaveAstroland.com” petition garnered over 10,000 signatures and helped raise awareness about Carol Hill Albert’s effort to get her lease extended into the 2008 summer season.
Gotlieb, who is also a member of Coney Island CLEAR [Community and Labor Empowerment Alliance for Redevelopment], has renewed that effort once again this year, and believes that Astroland should remain in Coney Island until the new zoning has been completed.
Electrician Todd Dobrin lives in Bath Beach, serves on Community Board 13 and complains that too much of Coney Island’s redevelopment is being done “behind the scenes.”
“You just don’t know what’s going to happen,” he says. “The community needs to be a party to these decisions.”
Dobrin says he wants to revitalize Coney Island through development and preserve amusements “as much as possible.”
He questions what “amusement themed” retail exactly means.
“Does every store have to sell popcorn?” he said. “Thor [Equities] told me that they would sign a CBA [community Benefits Agreement], and now the issue is what are they going to build.”
Bensonhurst resident John Lisyanski also serves on Community Board 13 and is an aide to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
While he says that the mere fact that there is a plan to rezone and redevelop Coney Island is moving in the right direction, he complains that there are “elements of the plan which need to be looked at much closer,”
“We have issues with transportation,” he says. “It has to be addressed. Coney Island has one of highest unemployment rates in the city. We have a problem that has to be addressed. What’s at stake is a lot more than what people have been talking about.”
A lot more work needs to be done on the city’s plan. according to Lisyanski,
“People are not buying what the CIDC [Coney Island Development Corporation] is putting forward,” he says. “It’s almost unacceptable, until we get the right answers this plan cannot move forward.”
Although he trails behind his opponents in campaign money raised, Gotlieb believes that he has a record of activism in Coney Island that the others just can’t match.
“They can’t deny the fact that I’ve been in the community,” he says. “I’m someone that’s been there fighting since day one.”
Dobrin says that he’s running to represent the “average everyday Joe.”
“I’m working for equity for working families,” he says. ”This seat is not my seat. The seat is owned by the residents of this district. When they vote me in I will be their voice.”
Lisyanski says that he has sacrificed a lot to be in public life and that he, too, understands “the regular folks.”
“I truly enjoy and love what I do, and if people have faith in me they will have a great benefit in return,” he says.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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