Monday, December 31, 2007

Will a Parking Lot Foil City's Coney Plan?


Politics makes strange bedfellows, and the most bizarre of all may turn out to be the odd alliances forged by the Bloomberg's Coney redevelopment plan and its effort to dislodge developer Joe Sitt from the amusement district and to swap the parking lot next to KeySpan Park for the developer's property. The rub, of course, is that the KeySpan lot (and the Abe Stark Ice Rink) are defined as parkland. The parkland has to be be "alienated" (or de-parked) in order for it to be transfered. And so, on the last day of the week after Christmas, State Sen. Carl Kruger held forth on the need for a lengthy environmental review before that can happen. As it turned out, New Yorkers for Parks, had asked the state Department of Environmental Conservation for an advisory opinion, which Sen. Kruger used. The city wants to swap 9.6 acres of land (the bulk of which is a parking lot but that is defined as parkland) for 10 acres of land Mr. Sitt owns in the amusement district. The land swap requires legislative approval. Of the involvement of New Yorkers for Parks, the Times reports:
Christian DiPalermo, executive director of the nonprofit group New Yorkers for Parks, asked for the advisory opinion to ensure that the public had more chance to comment before parkland is lost. Mr. DiPalermo said his group was not opposed to the Coney Island plan as long as the proper environmental procedures were followed.
Will an extensive environmental review process be required over a parking lot (an an ice rink that the city's plans show will be replaced)? Will pro-parks groups and environmental organizations align themselves those trying to slow or stop the city's plan? One sensed many possible legal and bureaucratic fights when the city's plan was announced. All it will take is a couple of legal challenges, and the city's plan could be effectively halted for the duration of the Bloomberg Administration.



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