It seems you can’t keep a good amusement park down: Thursday night, after three days of rumors that the city was hoping to save Astroland from the scrap heap, Save Coney Island’s Tricia Vita sent out an emergency missive to supporters announcing an “urgent last ditch effort to save Coney Island and Astroland for another year,” and including the email addresses of Mayor Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and Coney Island councilmember Domenic Recchia.
“The people of New York and the world can exert pressure on individual council members to save the People’s Playground,” wrote Vita.
Vita tells Runnin’ Scared that her group scrapped plans for a protest at either Astroland or the offices of landlord Thor Equities on Astroland’s last day after they heard that all hope was gone. They switched gears this week, however, after first an anonymous city official told the Daily News the city was pushing for a one-year reprieve (with the intent of later relocating Astroland to the city’s proposed boardwalk-hugging amusement district), and then Mayor Bloomberg added at a press conference Tuesday that “what we’re trying to do is to get Astroland to have another one-year extension of their lease so that we can get the rezoning done,” saying “it would be a great shame if the amusements, which have been around for so many years and defined Coney Island and this city as much as anything, it would be a shame if we lost those.”
“We really did think Astroland was finished,” says Vita. “But we’re not quitting.”
And what do the actual parties involved say?
* Astroland owner Carol Hill Albert, who on Sunday said of the possibility of renewing lease talks, “I’m done,” now says the door is open “a bit of a crack,” and that she’d even consider a one-year lease extension under the right conditions. However, she stressed that the matter would need to be resolved in the next few days, to give her time to sell off and dismantle her rides if necessary: “I’m not crying wolf here — we’re really behind. And the bottom line is I have to start paying horrific daily penalties by January 31 if I’m not out of there.”
* Coney Island Development Corporation president Lynn Kelly, the city’s point person on all things Coney, confirmed that the city has reached out to Thor Equities about a lease extension — two weeks ago, Kelly issued a statement that it “would be an absolute shame if Astroland’s lease is not renewed” — but indicated that the ball, at this point, is in the developer’s court.
* Thor spokesperson Stefan Friedman did not return repeated calls for comment.
* Rob Hart, a spokesperson for city councilmember Domenic Recchia – who, despite being cast by locals as the villain behind the city’s scaled-back amusement-district plans, appears to be the only person still talking to all three sides after this year’s Summer of Hate — says that “from where we are, nothing is happening with any kind of deal to keep Astroland there,” though he says Recchia will work to have some sort of rides on the site next year.
Astroland’s status, then, is probably best described as mostly dead. But we hope Vita and her pals have fun storming the castle.