Southern Brooklyn

Alliance for Coney Island Launches Today With A Mission To Cleanup, Restore And Rebuild America’s Playground

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Photo by Erica Sherman

The Alliance for Coney Island is a new partnership between the city and the several well-known establishments in Coney Island’s business community. Today marks the official launch of their organization.

Originally, the organization was going to focus on tourism, marketing and other means of maintaining Coney Island’s popularity. Now, after Sandy, they’ve decided to switch gears and focus on recovery efforts in the badly damaged area.

The badly-damaged Shore Hotel sign. Photo by Erica Sherman. Click to enlarge

“Hurricane Sandy has left Coney Island looking like a Cyclone hit it – devastating its seaside amusement district, officials say, with tens of millions of dollars in damage alone,” wrote the New York Post.

“We have a lot of work on our hands,” said Dennis Vourderis, the Alliance chairman and owner of Deno’s Wonderwheel Park.

Formerly, the Coney Island Development Corporation was managing the area. Now, the Alliance will inherit $630,000, which was due to go to the CIDC in the next two years. Business owners in the area will also contribute money to help the organization grow.

A new website has been established for the Alliance at Coneyrecovers.org in order to help direct volunteers, collect donations and help the neighborhood in any other relief efforts.

While the business owners are busy helping others, they know that they will also have to contend with repairing their own damaged Coney Island locations.

According to the Post:

All of Coney Island’s seaside rides need to have their electrical and motor systems overhauled. Deno’s suffered roughly $3 million in damages, while Zamperla USA, which oversees Luna Park and the Scream Zone, faces about $8 million or so in repairs.

MCU Park – home of the Brooklyn Cyclones – was also badly damaged. Its field was covered in water during the storm, and the locker rooms and souvenir shop were badly damaged.

The New York Aquarium also suffered extensive damage. It is trying to partly reopen by Memorial Day.

Neighborhood staples like Nathan’s Famous and Gargiulo’s Restaurant were also among the area businesses hardest hit. Nino Russo, an Alliance board member and Gargiulo’s owner, said his business suffered more than $1 million damages and is “working hard to re-open” by Christmas.

It’s heartwarming to read about neighborhood institutions like the Aquarium and Gargiulo’s taking such care to help the local residents while they have their own repairs to deal with. This is community involvement at its best and we hope that business owners meet their goals of reopening soon and locals benefit from their efforts.

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