There hasn’t been much good news coming out of Coney Island of late, unless you count the news that Nathan’s is staying put even if its building doesn’t. So this morning’s announcement by the city of a major press conference on “Coney Island redevelopment” at noon, featuring everyone from deputy mayor Robert Lieber to Rep. Jerry Nadler, provided a rare jolt of excitement. Had Thor Equities agreed to sell out to the city at last? Was Astroland moving to the old Thunderbolt site? The Parachute Jump reopening with federal stimulus money? What, what?
The answer, it can now be revealed: Carol Hill Albert is donating the Astroland rocket to the city, which will put it in storage. And then do something with it. Someday. Maybe.
According to the official city press release:
“The Rocket was donated to the City by Carol Hill Albert and Jerry Albert, whose family owned and operated the Astroland Amusement Park from 1962 until its closing in 2008. The 71 foot-long, 14,000 pound Rocket was removed from its perch atop Gregory and Paul’s boardwalk stand in anticipation of its move to Homeport in Staten Island, a City-owned facility operated by NYCEDC. The Rocket will become a permanent and iconic part of the 27 acre redeveloped amusement district in Coney Island.”
This, apparently, is how far the never-ending three-way battle of wills between the city, developer Thor Equities, and amusement fans has sunk. With its rezoning process about to kick off, both Thor and the Municipal Art Society criticizing them in opposite directions, and the prospect of a Thor-friendly Weiner administration looming, the Bloomberg administration has to be figuring it needs all the good press it can muster; as one Coneyite muttered this morning about today’s media event, “It’s all they’ve got.”
The bigger picture aside, the news that the Astro-rocket is joining the B&B Carousell in the city’s storage locker is certainly better than it being, say, shipped to Australia. Upon leaving today’s press conference, ever-choosing-his-words-carefully Dick Zigun of Coney Island USA told the Voice: “It’s a happy day of celebration in Coney Island! We thank the Albert family, and in this gesture, the city has done the right thing.” Though you do have to wonder if Marty Markowitz thinks it was worth being dragged out in the slush for.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 28, 2009