Developers of proposed Coney Island casino sponsor children programs
The developers who hope to bring a casino and entertainment complex to Coney Island have been funding summer programs for kids over the past few months. But some parents and critics of the project say they have doubts about the developer's intentions.
The Coney team has been trying to gather community support for their bid, sponsoring a number of basketball clinics and tournaments throughout the summer, and supplying t-shirts and uniforms with the words "The Coney" printed on them.
"We're stepping in because that's what the community demanded, they said if you're going to speak to us in any way you need to be leveraging whatever resources you have to benefit our young people," said Robert Cornegy, former council member turned consultant for The Coney.
Some parents and opponents of the casino projects say the developers are using kids as advertisement.
"Casinos bring prostitution, drug addicts, it brings pimps and other illegal activities," said father and longtime Coney Island resident Anthony Batista. "They're using kids to promote that behavior."
Those who organize sports activities in the area say funding is hard to come by, and these sponsorships allow them to offer their services for free.
"All those little expenses they add up," said Thomas “Ziggy” Sicignano, director of Brooklyn USA Basketball. "We're not out here promoting anything other than basketball," he added.
While most parents agree that the community needs more resources and activities for kids, critics say the developers are using the needs of the community for their financial benefit and that parents should be warned of what The Coney stands for ahead of time.