Addressing the listeners of 1010 WINS on Sunday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg described exciting new developments among the city’s many parks and recreational facilities that are sure to delight locals.
“[T]he enormously popular Brooklyn Bridge Park, which we opened in 2010, now features a pop-up swimming pool where families can take a dip to escape the heat and take in the magnificent views of the Lower Manhattan skyline,” said the mayor. “And earlier this month, we cut the ribbon on the brand-new Rockaway Park in Queens, right beside the cool waves of the Atlantic.
“After a $9 million investment from the City, the long-underused park now has a 15,000-foot skate park, rolling lawns, sports fields and more, all within a few feet of beautiful dunes and ocean swimming.”
Mayor Bloomberg went on to extol the fact that, in addition to recreational opportunities, these and similar developments will also help stimulate the local economy and create jobs. “That’s been the goal behind much of our work along the city’s waterfront,” said Bloomberg. “And there’s no better example than Coney Island, where our revitalization plan has created hundreds of seasonal jobs and thousands of permanent jobs while attracting investment in housing and new businesses throughout the community.”
“Coney Island has been a terrific success,” Bloomberg continued. “Last summer, more than 640,000 visitors took more than two million rides at the new Scream Zone and Luna Park. And this year, along with the newly opened second phase of the Scream Zone, there are new games and attractions; a faster, refurbished Cyclone roller coaster; and a range of new and expanded restaurants and stores for what we expect to be an even greater number of summer visitors to enjoy.”
Bloomberg went on to describe lofty plans for Coney Island’s New York Aquarium, including a new centerpiece, to be called “Ocean Wonders: Sharks!”
The plans for this substantial renovation were officially unveiled at a press conference held late last week. New York City’s Public Design Commission approved the design plan earlier this month for the 57,000 square foot exhibit building – as part of a public-private initiative the Mayor and the Wildlife Conservation Society announced in 2009. The Mayor and Wildlife Conservation Society also announced a major private gift of $7.5 million from Wildlife Conservation Society Trustee Barbara Hrbek Zucker and her husband, Don Zucker. The Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the New York Aquarium, is raising $34.4 million in private funds, of which $11 million has already been raised. The City has committed $93.1 million in public funds to the project, which will transform the exhibit space to feature more than 100 different species of marine animals – including sharks – and bolster Coney Island as a premier tourist destination.
The Mayor was joined at the New York Aquarium by Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro, City Council Member Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. and Barbara and Don Zucker.
“From the start, the exciting expansion and renovation of the New York Aquarium has been a vital part of our efforts to revive Coney Island,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The project is going to make the Aquarium much more visible and visually exciting to Coney Island’s thousands of visitors – from those strolling the Boardwalk to others visiting the Aquarium itself. I want to thank the Zuckers for their generous support and look forward the exhibit’s grand opening.”
“For generations, the New York Aquarium has provided everyone from babies to biologists with access to the remarkable diversity of sea life,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Levin.
“Thanks to a public-private partnership, this extraordinary new space will allow the Aquarium to embrace its vibrant waterfront location and attract even more visitors from across Brooklyn and beyond to the revitalized Coney Island.”
“‘Ocean Wonders: Sharks!’ is an important cultural, conservation and economic initiative for the City of New York. Coney Island will soon be home to one of the world’s most spectacular shark exhibits,” said Cristián Samper, Wildlife Conservation Society President and CEO. “This is a great example of a public-private partnership that will bring an economic boost to the city, jobs to families and connect millions to the wonders of the ocean in the New York Bight and around the globe.”
Samper went on to express his gratitude Mayor Bloomberg, Councilman Recchia, Brooklyn Borough President Markowitz, Staten Island Borough President Molinaro, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York City Council “for supporting this transformational project important to Coney Island development and for tourism across the city.” He also thanked the Zuckers for their ongoing support, which is helping to make the whole project possible.
The new addition to the New York Aquarium, once completed in 2015, will feature more than 100 different species of marine animals, said Mayor Bloomberg in his radio address, including sea turtles, rays, and thousands of schooling fish.
“But the real stars of the show will be the sharks – a dozen or so species, up close and personal like never before. We expect the exhibit will be a major draw – not just during the summer months when visitors flock to Coney Island, but all year round.
“The Aquarium has long been one of our city’s great family attractions. After the $127 million public-private investment in the Ocean Wonders building, it’ll be even better – and that’s more great news for the Coney Island community. Of course, there’s still the surf, sand, and cool breezes that have always drawn visitors to Coney – and which we’re especially thankful for come the dog days of summer. If you haven’t visited the new Coney Island this season – or any of the great summer resources we’ve improved on – there’s no better time than the present.”