Mr. Cosme is an unabashed redevelopment skeptic. “It was great going to the rides as a kid,” he said. “But it was tough growing up in the neighborhood. I’m not against development, but all the money goes back out. The community is not benefiting from the amusements.”
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, consultants and nonprofit groups seemed to descend on his neighborhood in eerie concert with newly available public money. “How can these people come into the West End now?” he asked. “Where were they before Sandy?” (Perturbed by a slow trickledown to storm victims, city councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island, recently introduced a bill—together with Eric Ulrich, of Queens—calling on the Department of Investigation to monitor the use of the billions of dollars in federal recovery funds New York has received, and to investigate potential fraud and abuse.)
Ed Cosme at his salon and Mathylde Frontus of Urban Neighborhood Services.
In outlining such doubts, Mr. Cosme and others I spoke with seemed to refer not merely to Coney Island’s latest overhaul, but to a long history of unrealized promises made in the name of opportunism.
“Since I was a little girl, they’ve been saying, ‘Coney Island is going to be this, Coney Island is going to be that,’” Mathylde Frontus told me. “There is a feeling that you have the residents on one side and the powers that be on the other.