CITY RIDES BIZMAN OVER CONEY CLOSURE

September 19, 2008 at 5:27 pm Leave a comment

A controversial developer is now officially Coney Island’s public enemy No. 1 — at least as far as the Bloomberg administration is concerned.

In the strongest public rebuke of Joe Sitt by a city official, Lynn Kelly, the president of the Coney Island Development Corp., accused the developer of buying up prime boardwalk land and clearing out rides to force the mayor’s hand — so he could build luxury condos and retail.

Kelly said Sitt’s attempts to replace the rides he’s cleared out the past three summers with temporary amusements have been a huge flop — including a much-maligned “inflatable” water slide he set up on Stillwell Avenue last summer — and she even suggested he is privately happy over the failure.

“What’s his point? Unless it’s [a deceptive attempt] to show that amusements don’t work and amusement zoning doesn’t work,” Kelly told The Post.

Kelly’s remarks came a day after she revealed during a Municipal Art Society panel discussion on Coney Island how city officials recently tried to cut an 11th-hour deal to save fabled Astroland from closing but were shot down by Sitt.

The park closed its doors for good last week after 46 years when longtime operator Carol Albert couldn’t reach a new lease deal with Sitt, who is Astroland’s landlord.

Kelly said the city asked Sitt’s Thor Equities firm to give Albert a one-year lease extension. This, she said, would allow the park to remain open next summer and provide sufficient time get the necessary approvals to move Astroland’s rides to a section of the boardwalk that the city owns.

“We were told Thor had no interest in our offer or extending the lease,” she said.

Albert said Thor Equities has refused to negotiate.

A Sitt spokesman did not return messages seeking comment.

But Sitt through a spokesman has previously tried to blame Albert for Astroland’s closing by saying he is “extremely disappointed that” Albert “has decided to give up on the future of Coney Island when her current lease isn’t even up” until the end of January.

Albert said she needs the extra months to sell off her rides before the lease expires or face hefty penalties from Sitt for failing to vacate the land on time.

Albert said she has received offers but admits failing to pull the trigger to sell the rides because she “had been holding out for the slimmest of hope” that Sitt would come around.

She is now ready to give up.

“It would be a miracle at this point now,” said Albert, adding she wants to relocate all her rides to one location rather than piece-meal.

The offers include parks in other states and from “Arab princes” seeking to move Astroland’s rides to the tourist destination of Dubai.

By Rich Calder
New York Post

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Entry filed under: Brooklyn, Go Coastal, Public Waterfront. Tags: , , , .

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