Coney Island

Coney Island Pumping Station’s fans muster at Landmarks hearing

October 8, 2015 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Preservationists and Coney Island residents want the Coney Island Pumping Station to be landmarked, renovated and repurposed for the community's use. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan

Best. Hat. Ever.

Back in the day, the Coney Island Pumping Station saved many lives and properties by providing high-pressure water to firefighters.

Educator Merryl Kafka wanted to drive that point home visually — so she wore a firefighter’s helmet to testify at a city Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) hearing Thursday.

“Coney has lost much of its architectural framework, but we can save this 1938 modern masterpiece preserved as public art … with a new purpose,” said Kafka, the co-founder of the Rachel Carson High School of Coastal Studies in Coney Island. “Let this building be the one.”

Preservationists from the Art Deco Society of New York and numerous other groups turned out to testify that they want the Coney Island Pumping Station to be landmarked, renovated and repurposed for the community’s use.

The pumping station at 2301 Neptune Ave. was one of seven Brooklyn historic sites that have been on the LPC’s calendar for consideration as landmarks for many years without a decision from the preservation agency.

The hearing was a first step in an intensive LPC campaign to clear up that calendar backlog. There are 95 properties citywide on the backlog list.

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The lozenge-shaped Arte Moderne-style pumping station was the only public work designed by prominent architect Irwin Chanin. It boosted the water pressure available for firefighters in Coney Island, which was frequently stricken by devastating conflagrations.

Decorative Art Deco-style limestone statues of winged horses were removed many years ago from the long-decommissioned pumping station and loaned to the Brooklyn Museum.

“The Elgin Marbles are waiting at the Brooklyn Museum for reassembly,” testified Sean Khorsandi, an alumnus of Cooper Union, like Chanin himself.

“The power lies with you,”  Khorsandi told commissioners.

“Give a landmark to a neighborhood that basically is NYCHA public housing,” Dick Zigun, known as the unofficial mayor of Coney Island, said at the hearing.

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