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Astroland favorites not gone for good

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Pieces of Astroland Amusement Park may be rapidly falling away on Surf Avenue this week, but the head of the Coney Island Development Corporation told this newspaper that the venerable Coney Island playground could one day be reconstituted somewhere within the community – if the city gets its way.

According to Lynn Kelly, Astroland’s favorite rides and attractions could be brought back on an interim basis while grand plans for a new year-round amusement park in Coney Island are put into effect.

This week marked the long-awaited certification of the city’s Coney Island redevelopment plan and the official start of ULURP - Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. Multiple hearings still remain and the city has a long way to go before it successfully assembles all the pieces to its parkland puzzle.

Nevertheless, officials are hopeful that the zoning they seek to spark creation of 4,500 new units of Coney Island housing and 27-acres of state-of-the-art amusements will be in place by summer’s end.

“One reason I put my rides in storage is because I was hoping there might be a way of coming back,” Astroland operator Carol Albert said.

While city officials readily acknowledge City Councilmember Domenic Recchia as having played an integral part in redevelopment efforts thus far, he remains a powerful opponent of aspects of the plan – mainly because he says some Coney Island property owners are unhappy with it.

“I am negotiating with the city on the whole rezoning,” Recchia said. “There are certain issues that we’re trying to resolve.”

In addition to those unhappy property owners, Recchia says that the parking component of the city’s plan also has many flaws.

Despite the differences, city officials insist that they will not preclude any developer interested in re-imagining Coney Island in the future -- just as long as they conform to the zoning they hope to enact.

According to Kelly, that could including everyone from Joe Sitt to Carol Albert.

“I wouldn’t count on it,” Albert said, looking at long-term redevelopment.   

Astroland’s operator has a much more immediate deadline looming at the end of the month when her lease with Thor Equities expires and she is forced to clear the 3.1 acre site that had housed Astroland Amusement Park for over 45 years. It now appears that the iconic Astro Tower may have to be left behind to an uncertain fate.

“We offered to donate it to various places,” Albert said. “It is a not an easy item to accommodate.  You can’t put this in your backyard.”

Thor Equities did not respond to requests for comment about the Astro Tower’s fate. 

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