Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Could Astroland Rise Again?

Astroland's last survivor--for now...

Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until Carol Hill Albert decides it is! Or at least, that's what she's been telling the local media. The Albert family (former owners of the theoretically defunct Astroland) may have lost the battle with Thor Equities, but they are intent on winning the war if the right opportunity presents itself.

Albert's lamentations over losing the lease on the former Astroland site have been matched only by the lamentations of the many locals and visitors who were devastated to see this piece of history disappear from the Coney Island landscape. And with the recent approval of the City's controversial "makeover" plan and the resultant question mark that has been placed on Thor Equities' future presence at the People's Playground, one can't help but wonder what could have been. Fortunately, this convoluted series of events may yield a glimmer of hope yet.

Pending the outcome of its real estate negotiations with Thor, the City is expected to issue a request for proposals in an effort to solicit entities who are interested in operating an amusement park at the "new" Coney Island. If and when that happens, Albert plans to throw Astroland's hat into the ring. She told another local newspaper that "every bolt and every screw" from Astroland is currently in storage, and that she would be interested in purchasing even more rides if the park were to be reincarnated at some point in the future. As things stand today, 23 of Astroland's rides live on (albeit quietly) in an undisclosed storage location.

This came as a bit of a surprise to me, as the last thing I remember reading was that all of Astroland's rides had been put up for sale after the park closed its gates at the end of the 2008 season. But hey, at least it was a pleasant surprise! Carol deserves a lot of credit for taking a chance on preserving the remnants of this beloved park. While Astroland's return to Coney Island is far from a sure thing, it's wonderful to know that it is within the realm of possibility. The reemergence of a classic Coney landmark could be just what the City needs to make its plan a bit more palatable.