On Monday, March 6th, residents of Coney Island attended two community meetings organized by Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. The meetings were hosted as an opportunity for Coney Island residents to discuss and express their feelings about the proposed idea of a casino. Maps and signs were set up, displaying the makeup and facts of the area. The locals who attended the event spoke, raised placards, and were given sticky notes on which to give their opinion on how the casino would affect the area.
The meeting saw a divide in opinion as some community members and activists were in support of the casino while others were not. Demonstrations and protests were held outside the meeting venue, which was a local YMCA.
Divided in Opinion
The Coney Island community members who spoke in favor of the casino saw the economic and entertainment benefits it would offer to the area. Julia Daniely said the opening of a casino in the area would “economically revive” the locale. “We were considered the world’s greatest entertainment district,” Daniely said. “How can it be so great without a casino? First and foremost though, it’s going to bring jobs to the neighborhood. A lot of jobs.”
Other community members were concerned by the idea of a casino. They said it would make crime in the area worse. “These young boys are gonna go out and start stealing and robbing these people,” said Sharaya Means, a local resident.
Some residents claimed the casino would financially drain the community rather than add to it.
“This casino is a travesty. It will destroy the community and it will drain the community of the resources that the people barely have,” Kashiem Brown said to Gothamist. “You want to build a casino in a community that is already neglected by the city and state as a whole, and what’s gonna happen further is going to drain the people of their means.”
Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso said he was still uncertain about the casino. “I don’t know how I feel yet,” he said. “I want to be honest. Ultimately, what I want is for Coney Island to be taken care of. That’s what I care about more than anything. And whatever decision the state wants to make here, I want the community involved. That’s what I’m doing here.”
It will be months before the state decides to approve the building of a casino in Coney Island. Thor Equities has made a bid to build and published renderings of a casino project dubbed “The Coney.”
“We’re bringing a rich entertainment experience and a deep commitment to the community of the shores of Coney Island in Brooklyn. It will be a new kind of casino and entertainment district: one destined to be New York’s new beacon of economic opportunity,” the project’s vision said.