Monday, January 07, 2008

Coney Session: Public Policy or Political Theater?

Will tonight's first public information session about the city Coney Island Redevelopment proposals be about public policy or political theater? We're hoping that it will be mostly about the former, but fearing there is a very good chance that it will be significantly about the latter. Both sides appear ready to pack the meetings with their respective supporters. On the anti-plan side are "opponents" that are likely to bussed in by State Sen. Carl Kruger. The last time the Coney Island Development Corp. held such a meeting in November, the State Senator used his campaign funds to bus in "protesters," many of whom are believed to have been paid to attend. So many people showed up at a small venue that the Coney Island Development Corp. canceled the meeting. On the pro-plan side, the Save Coney Island group sent out an email blast to supporters, urging them to turn out and to wear costumes if possible. The auditorium where the meetings will be held holds 1,200 people, so there should be plenty of space to handle people on both sides of the issue.

Still, none of this bodes well for a thoughtful exchange of ideas about what is, at heart, a very complex issue of land use and development policy that will shape the future of one of the most significant destinations in Brooklyn for generations to come. David Gratt of Coney Island USA got to the heart of the matter--and the need for a thoughtful exchange of ideas to begin the discussion process--when he wrote on the Coney Island Message Board:
If anyone is remotely interested in speaking, for or against the proposal, please come. It's important that the authentic voice of the community chime in as well as people from outside the community.
Tonight's session--which is intended to give an overview of the plan to interested members of the public and is not part of the formal land use review process, which will begin later, will take place at Lincoln High School (2800 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn). It will run from 6:30PM to 9:00PM. There will be another session at the same location on Tuesday, January 8, from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM. There will be a daytime session at Coney Island Hospital (2601 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn) on Tuesday from 3:00 PM-5:00 PM.

We have our fingers crossed that there will be a genuine public discourse about a very important public issue and that the sessions won't degenerate into non-productive theatrics that actually interfere with the ability of interested citizens to learn more.



Blogger Unknown said...

The email that I sent out to the Save Coney Island members asked them to make a visual statement. But, it also urged them to attend the meeting to voice their opinions and questions about the rezoning framework. the email included a link to the CIDCs zoning framework and asked the members to review the plan, in advance, and attend the meeting with any questions and comments they may have. Although I asked the Save Coney Island to visually represent the spirit of Coney Island in their dress, we are not planning to disrupt the productivity of this meeting in any way.

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a good idea for people who care about Coney to wear costumes to show there's an organized group in opposition to Kruger's bused in crew in the yellow hats. But I'm also worried the two groups will suck up all the photo ops and media attention. I hope individuals who don't have the time or inclination to wear a costume are given a chance to speak up and what they have to say is reported by the news and blogs

1:21 PM  

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