September 29, 2000
City Council Forces
Coney Island Closure!
It will be missed by all
By Thomas Hobbs
-- Elia Toscano winces as she closes down the Coney Island
Hot Dogs shop for the very last time on Friday. The famous landmark
has been a profit center for all of the 77 years of its operation.
The family owned business has become a victim of
what some say is a belated Fresno City Council attempt to
move a proposed City baseball stadium along in spite of the City Attorney
cautions that financial obligations of the taxpayers may be at risk
because numerous Council delays in approving the project's financing
Financing a shortfall on the proposed stadium construction
would fall on the Redevelopment Agency. Councilmember Dan Ronquillo,
who is also the Agency official told reporters last week there
is no money to cover the shortfall.
However Mr. Ronquillo has now stepped up downtown
land preparation activities for the unlikely stadium construction
project this week. City Attorney Hilda Cantu-Montoy raised
serious legal and financing questions about going forward with such
a project after it was learned that neither the City nor the Redevelopment
Agency had the funds to cover increased stadium operation costs resulting
from construction delays while councilmembers debated the economic
viability of a minor-league baseball stadium in the abandoned downtown
Fresno government center.
Ronquillo has delayed committing necessary Redevelopment
Agency revenues for the additional $1,000,000 lease payment charges
to operate the stadium, the project is now unlikely to see completion.
Downtown merchants are at a loss to explain why
Mr. Ronquillo has removed and cut-off Coney Island's customer
easy access to the store through free street-level parking.
"It's so sad. We have been calling Councilman Dan
Ronquillo's office for three weeks, and he has never once returned
our calls. We spoke with his secretary and were told that the plan
to revitalize downtown Fresno with a baseball stadium has been in
place for over nine years now.
Mr. Ronquillo's secretary told us we should have known this would
happen and moved your business to another location." Elia Toscano
"The day the City fenced off the parking,
our business dropped by 90% and we don't have the foot traffic we
need to stay open," she said.
All of the once free street-level parking has been
taken-out by the City Council to develop the baseball stadium project,
adjacent to Coney Island's business.
On the last day of business the line of customers
outside the Coney Island Hot Dog store was 300 feet long with
people ordering 20-30 chili dogs each.
Many customers we spoke with were remembering their
first visit to Coney Island as a child, and stories of how their grandparents
used to enjoy a steaming hot dog there when they were children.
Ronquillo could not be reached for comment.
Letter to the
©2000 Clovis Free Press. All rights