Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sitt Down?

The Observer has one of Matt Scheurman's usually thoughtful pieces, this one's on the feud over the development of Coney Island. In it, the focus is on the city's dislike of Mr. Sitt and its attempt to make an end run of his considerable leverage in the area: "Now, $150 million later, Mr. Sitt has gained about 80 percent of the amusement area and a reputation as a land speculator. On Nov. 8, Mayor Bloomberg revealed a plan to redevelop Coney Island into the largest urban amusement area in the country, mapping out a strategy to divest Mr. Sitt of the land he has painstakingly assembled."

Not so fast. As Crain's reported the other day, the city apparently has acted precipitously with regard to Sitt and the development of the area: "Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s Coney Island redevelopment plan faces opposition from city and state lawmakers, sources say. Insiders were shocked when the mayor announced the plan last week without securing support from Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, state Sen. Diane Savino and City Councilman Domenic Recchia."

To this we could add State Senator Carl Kruger, who represents a sliver of Coney, and whose influence in this regard would exceed Savino's due to his close relationship with Majority Leader Bruno. In addition, it should be pointed out, that Sitt has been cultivating the right elected officials and his ability to play rope-a-dope with the Bloombergistas shouldn't be underestimated.

What Sitt needs, however, is a better development plan, one that incorporates community sentiment and makes his efforts to build something significant easier to accomplish. In all likelihood, this will eventually happen only under new political configurations circa 2009.