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Front St.City Hall Section - Clovis Free PressBack St.
Vol. 17  No. 21 Final Edition
Clovis Free Press
September 29, 2000
City Council Forces
Coney Island Closure!

It will be missed by all
By Thomas Hobbs

Elia Toscano - Clovis Free Press photo   FRESNO -- 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 arrangements.
   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. Historic Fresno landmark closed! - Clovis Free Press photo Mr. Ronquillo's secretary told us we should have known this would happen and moved your business to another location." Elia Toscano said.
    "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 Editor

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