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Proposed Coney Island Casino Met With Community Opposition

Published: July 4, 2023
Mr. Zheng Yongjia (Second from right), State Representative of the 49th District of New York, poses for a photo with advocates of a proposed Coney Island casino following a discussion on its pros and cons on June 28, 2023 in New York. (Photo: Eva Zhang/Vision Times)

On June 28 community members, political leaders and potential developers met to discuss the proposed Coney Island casino development at the Golden Crown Restaurant in Brooklyn, New York.

The $3 billion proposal includes the construction of a hotel, casino and entertainment venue on the iconic boardwalk, a project that developers say will bring thousands of temporary construction jobs and even more permanent jobs to the area. 

Community members however are raising the alarm, fearful that the project will attract more things like traffic, crime, prostitution, and gambling addiction, to the community.

Standing in opposition to the project is longtime Coney Island resident, Ann Michelle Valdez, who told News 12 Long Island that the area would be better used serving youth. “Put money into this property to build something for the community that would involve the youth, so they don’t turn to doing negative things,” she said.

Robert Cornegy, a partner on a pro-casino task force, insists that the jobs the project would bring would benefit the area by bringing year-long employment opportunities in a “lucrative” industry. 

He says the jobs created would be in the hospitality, hotel and gambling realms, and will provide decent year-round pay checks.

“Being able to bring decent paying, year-round jobs is something that I feel like I am compelled to push and demand,” he told Brooklyn Paper, adding that, “For people of color, black people in particular, labor has created [a] pathway to the middle class in a lot of different industries. The hotel trade is one of the more lucrative opportunities.”

He said the potential jobs could offer compensation of upwards of $30 an hour with benefits that would lift locals out of poverty and put them on the track to a middle-class lifestyle. 

“We could potentially miss an opportunity to open up the hospitality industry for a borough that has its own brand,” he said, adding that, “The ability to match that brand with opportunities in the hotel and hospitality industry is something that we can’t look away from or we shouldn’t look away from.”


The chairperson for Community Board 13, Lucy Mujica Diaz however is skeptical, arguing that the number of jobs promised, and their benefits, are being oversold and argues further that the jobs created may not be a good fit for the locals.  

“I don’t see someone in hospitality lasting that long,”she told Brooklyn Paper, adding that, “I don’t think it would be a good fit for some of the people because there are still unanswered questions.”

The proposed project however, has the potential to lift the historically economically depressed area up.

In terms of income, Coney Island falls behind nearby communities. In 2018 the poverty rate in Coney Island was 24 percent compared to a city-wide rate of 20 percent and City data indicates that a little over seven percent of working-age residents work in the hospitality or arts industries, earning a median wage of just $22,344 per year. 

Cornegy says that the proposed project will address these disparities and the lack of year-round job opportunities.

“I think it’s important to note how far, even when we talk about the disparities in the city, those disparity numbers are always increased in a place like Coney Island,” he said.

Valdez however sees the project as a means simply to enrich a few.

“These developers that are coming in here, majority of them are only looking to put money in their pockets,” she told Brooklyn Paper, adding that, “ They’re not looking to uplift us. Instead, they’re looking to create havoc here because with a casino people here that are living low to middle income are going to spend up their money and they’re going to wind up evicted.”

“Money is gonna go in. Money is not gonna come out,” Valdez told Pix 11

The project is still in its preliminary proposal stages and developers are currently finishing their Request for Application and are awaiting the State to announce a submission date.

Cornegy insists that “This project looks to be one of the largest job creators in southern Brooklyn,” and told the NY Post that “We have a responsibility to bring economic development to underserved communities. The Coney casino does that.”