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Community Leader Announces Petition Drive To Save Astroland

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Original Article »

August 14, 2007

CONEY ISLAND — This summer, Coney Island’s good times seem destined to roll on forever at the Astroland Amusement Park. Sadly, this is not true. First opened in 1962, the end of Astroland Amusement Park, at least at its current location, is less than five short weeks away. Negotiations on a lease for the 2008 season have stalled with no resolution in sight.

In response to this situation, community activist and former Community Board 13 Chairman Brian Gotlieb announced the creation of a petition drive asking Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Markowitz, each of Coney Island’s elected officials, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the Coney Island Development Corporation and Joseph Sitt, owner of Thor Equities, to negotiate a fair and equitable lease with Astroland’s owners that would permit Astroland to remain open beyond the 2007 summer season.

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According to Gotlieb, “The objective of this petition is simple and straight forward. It is not to criticize or place blame. It is to provide people with a place to express their hope that the parties involved will be able to set aside any differences and negotiate a fair and equitable lease so that one of Coney Island’s jewels can remain open for at least another year. While change may be inevitable, there is no need to rush Astroland’s passage into history. Until plans for its successor are finalized, Astroland should remain open and continue to serve the community and millions of happy visitors as it helps create countless priceless memories of Coney Island.”

Astroland, which sits on property that was sold to Thor Equities in November of 2006, is set to be replaced as part of a proposed $2 billion Coney Island makeover designed to transform Coney Island into a year-round tourist attraction with hotels and indoor attractions.

Despite the sale, many in the community hoped that arrangements could be made to allow Astroland to stay open for the 2007 and 2008 seasons while plans for the site were still being developed and approved.

When it first opened, the New York Times described Astroland as “the first major project for frivolous purposes in Coney Island in 25 years.” Its name reflected the Cold War space race and the future, with “space age rides” that replaced tamer local fare like the famous Feltman’s Carousel. A red, white and blue rocket ship, now an artifact of the past, still rises above the rides with “Astroland Park” painted across its fuselage.

For the park’s employees, the impending closing of Astroland brings the promise of emotional and financial upheaval as nearly 400 workers, many of them seasonal help, will be out of work.

“They say that change is inevitable and that newer is better. Perhaps so. To those who have come to know, cherish and love Astroland, change need not come so swiftly so as to bury one of our community’s treasures before its time,” Gotlieb said.

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