Plan for NYC Ferris wheel rolls on, despite Sandy

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 2, 2013 at 8:23 am •  Published: January 2, 2013
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"Obviously, my heart goes out to the people who did lose what they lost, but we have to just forge ahead," he said, pointing to the amenities, 1,200 construction jobs and 1,250 permanent jobs the combined development is expected to create. "To me, that's an incredible opportunity that Staten Island should not lose out on."

The developers' stormproofing plans have addressed some residents' concerns, said David Goldfarb, an officer in a nearby neighborhood group. While some residents have misgivings, particularly about traffic, there's also an appetite for seeing something rise on a property where development plans have been broached and shelved for decades, he said.

But in Sandy's wake, some Staten Island residents are questioning whether it's the right time and place for the attraction.

Nancy Rooney, a nurse who lives and works on the island, went to a public meeting about the project last month and left with a rueful feeling about it.

"It was in poor taste to be discussing a Ferris wheel and all this glamor — it was very hard to embrace this when you knew that your colleagues and their family members were devastated, and there were people who don't have heat or electricity or homes," she said later.

Several City Council members and state legislators said in a letter they were aghast that the meeting was held little more than two weeks after the Oct. 29 storm, though they remained "generally supportive" of the project.

Marin said that developers were aware of the concerns, but that the meeting would have taken months to reschedule because of public-notice requirements.

Others say the wheel should wait until the city thinks through what Sandy will mean for waterfront building.

"Before the storm, I don't think that anyone had really given much consideration to the fact that these projects are being built in a flood plain," said Beryl Thurman, a Staten Island environmental activist. She thinks the attraction "should be put on a back burner until the city of New York can come up with real answers."

The city Independent Budget Office, a watchdog agency, and the Municipal Arts Society, a nonprofit urban planning group, both spotlighted the Ferris wheel plan in separate blog posts wondering what development lessons the city will learn from Sandy.

Building the Ferris wheel and other waterfront projects without a citywide look at coastal building "increases the risk that the next 'superstorm' will exact an even higher price tag," IBO spokesman Doug Turetsky wrote.

But to Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, Sandy's blow is no reason to step back from what he sees as a transformative project for the battered borough. If anything, it's just the opposite.

"We have to show the community, and we have to show the world, we're coming back," he said.

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Follow Jennifer Peltz at http://twitter.com/jennpeltz