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Pedestrian Plaza Craze Makes Its Way To Coney Island

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It transformed Times Square and Herald Square, and now the city's pedestrian plaza push has made its way out to Coney Island, after such a space was officially unveiled in the Brooklyn amusement area on Monday. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

Knife jugglers and other freak show acts have a new place to perform in Coney Island, right on West 12th Street in a newly created pedestrian plaza.

"There's really no limit with what we could do with this space, and all in the interest of bringing people to Coney Island to experience that we have to offer," said Nate Bliss of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Community and business leaders officially unveiled the plaza Monday. It is now filled with tables and chairs, seating about 40 people in a sectioned-off area near the boardwalk. The space it used to be a dead-end street that brought blight.

"It was dumped on by illegal dumping. It was just a horrible area, it was ugly, it looked like it didn't belong. It looked like it didn't belong in an amusement area," said Dennis Vourderis of Deno's Wonder Wheel.

Now this landscaped space serves as a connection between Deno's Wonder Wheel Park and Scream Zone and an additional seating area for Nathan's boardwalk restaurant.

"People can move more, there's more space, there's more room, comfort," said Community Board 13 District Manager Chuck Reichenthal.

Community Board 13 approved the site for a pedestrian plaza after controversy with the first choice. Stillwell Avenue was considered but after complaints it would eliminate too many parking spots, the plaza shifted east to the final spot.

"It's always a balance between parking, which is very much needed, and public amenities but we're confident we can do both. and continue to improve the public environment," Bliss said.

The Alliance for Coney Island, which is made up of merchants and other community stakeholders, will maintain the area. It will also provide programming for the space including art exhibitions.

"It's just a wonderful addition to the block," Vourderis said.

The Alliance for Coney Island now wants to name the pedestrian plaza and has put together an online contest for New Yorkers to weigh in.

To vote, visit facebook.com/coneyislandfun. The naming contest ends on Friday.

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