Sunday, September 09, 2007

Astroland #2: The Final Day, Ever?

Water Flume

Gowanus Lounge Analysis:

Astroland in Coney Island opens today at noon, for what may be its last day ever. In an era of theme parks and corporate merchandising of amusements, it is a simple and charming anachronism, a reminder of an era whose time has gone. Astroland is the State Fair Midway and the carnival that set up in the church parking lot that you remember from when you were a kid. We love its cluttered, crowded, noisy Brooklyn charm. It touches something deep inside us to look past the Astroland sign and see the trains rumbling past, to go up in the Astrotower and look down or to watch the faces of the children in those simple little rides.

Our sadness isn't so much that Astroland is going, but that it may be going long before its replacement comes along. Next year, if developer Joe Sitt uses the land as a bargaining chip to pressure the city or exacts revenge for a rejected plan or evicts the former owners because he couldn't squeeze an extra $500,000 in rent from site, the vacant land surrounded by a blue wall of plywood will sit as a dagger through the heart of one of the most diverse destinations in all of Brooklyn. While not as vile as Fred Trump's invitation to guests to throw rocks through the windows of Steeplechase Park in 1964, the premature demise of Astroland is no less a symbolic violation of the very soul of a place for which many Brooklynites care deeply.

We have said it before and we will say it again:

Mr. Sitt, if you have some caring or decency in your body, do not murder Astroland before it needs to go. We know that you can and that you have every right to do so, but oftentimes what one can and what one should do are very different things. We have heard you say that there will be amusements on the land next year. If it was a sincere statement, then, why not simply let the current operation continue?

Keep Astroland open until the land needs to be cleared for development.

It might cost you some money and it might deprive you of something to trade with the city, but you will win something priceless: goodwill from many decent, caring people whose public and political support will be helpful to you.

Mr. Sitt, do the right thing.



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