Here’s a statement from Astroland co-owner Carol Hill Albert on the Coney Island amusement park’s impending closure for good this Sunday. It was sent to the Save Coney Island listserv.
I am making this statement today to set the record straight. I have not "given up on Coney Island" as Thor Equities has stated. I have given up on trying to get Thor to negotiate which I have attempted to do every month since June, and numerous times in August. Each time their response was, "We have no answer." The safety of our customers and our commitment to employees means our time has run out. Ride parts must be ordered a minimum of eight to 10 months in advance. My employees cannot live in a state of limbo any longer. It takes six months to pack up a three-acre amusement park that has been in operation for 46 years, so a January 31st deadline means start packing yesterday. We are out of time.
Today I notified Astroland’s employees that the amusement park will cease operations permanently at the end of the day on Sunday, September 7th.
Many in the community had hoped along with us that Astroland could remain open to keep the lights on in Coney Island until the rezoning issue had been resolved, because carnival rides, as the "Summer of Hope" sadly proved, are no substitute for a permanent amusement park. However, when even our good friend, Councilman Domenic Recchia could do nothing to persuade Thor to negotiate, it became clear we had no choice but to close the business permanently on Sunday night, September 7th. Coney Island’s future as a tourism and amusement destination is clearly in peril. Thor equities, which now owns most of Coney Island, came onto the development scene showing beautiful renderings of this great 21st century amusement park they were promising to build. All indications however, are that their real priority is retail and high end housing. There is a real question as to whether Coney Island will ever have amusements, other than the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel in its future. Instead it appears to be that a series of shopping malls and condos will replace amusement parks as the centerpiece of the Coney Island that has been here for over 100 years. This is a tragic loss for the City of New York and visitors around the world.
Astroland Kiddie Park and the Cyclone Roller Coaster will open for the last weekend on Friday, Sept 5 at 12:00 noon. Major thrill rides will open at 4 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, all attractions will open at 12:00 noon.
We invite all New Yorkers to come to Astroland this weekend to bid farewell to this historic icon.
And we look forward to seeing many of our loyal patrons on opening day for the Cyclone roller coaster, Sunday April 5, 2009.