Friday, June 13, 2008

Coney Island “Funny-Money” Home

Dick Zigun, 55, is referred to as the “Mayor of Coney Island.” He’s been in Coney most of his life. He owns “Zigun’s Coney Island USA” which runs a popular circus sideshow and museum. Zigun also organizes the annual "Mermaid Parade" in Brooklyn and manages a nonprofit organization he founded in 1980. He’s also been a member of New York City’s Coney Island Development Corporation for three years. Zigun has lived and operated his not-for-profit business for ten years at 1208 Surf Avenue in a modest two room apartment. Coincidentally, the CIDC approved a $3.6 million dollar sweetheart-deal for Zigun to buy the building where he resides using public grant money to do so. This is where the story begins. You see the building is supposed to be used only for public entertainment; not for residential use. Though he never hid his home address, Zigun may now face an investigation for inappropriate use of the millions he received. Could it be that this is coming to light now because a city watchdog alertly spotted the illegality here? Unlikely. Could it be that this is coming to light now because Zigun has been opposed to recent CIDC building plans which sacrifice amusement space for retail locations and motels? More likely. Perhaps his vocal objections kicked some sand in a financial bully's face. Hopefully this story won’t get swept, under the boardwalk. If Mr. Zigun inappropriately received public funds, the law should be upheld regardless of where the sand castles may fall. If however, Mr. Zigun's points about the public losing out to private interests are substantiated, he, and his modest two room apartment should be protected.