Southern Brooklyn

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

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
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“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 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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Comment policy


  1. The story about the New York Aquarium is amazing in itself. Neptune was looking out for them, the only casualties were the Koi. An eel was found alive in the employees shower stall! Go figure.

  2. The animals survived the flooding, but the Aquarium was completely flooded and suffered costly damage to its infrastructure and operating systems. Looks like Neptune had one eye on the animals with the other closed. Not so amazing.

  3. The article I read explined how all the tanks were flooded. With the mixture of native water in the tanks it IS amazing they survived. It is a shame there was so much damage to equiptment. The preparation they took to have compressed air tanks brought in saved the stock. Mybe it is not amazing….a miracle!

  4. Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay, and its’ environs boom, ironically, will only continue, even more quickly now. Why? Additional FEMA money, which wasn’t here in the first place, despite the expected initial mea culpas, will add unexpected capital to even unplanned upgrades. The wider medias new attention to southern Brooklyn, will make people who never realized it, see that we sit on a scenic Bay, and there is even an Ocean right here too.(This was a once in a lifetime storm, which would surely be managed better, in the future) Imagine the possibilities! I wish I had the capital now to invest, especially along Neck Road east of CIA, which despite losing power for a while, did not sustain the lower level flood damage, as areas further south along Ocean Avenue, and I wish I had some extra bucks to invest around, where our Aquarium sits!


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