Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Forest Park Carousel Fans Have to Wait a While Longer as City Continues Search for New Vendor by Lisa L. Colangelo - NY Daily News

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Visitors to Forest Park hoping to take a ride on its historic carousel will have to wait a little longer.

Plans to open the carousel, which has sat silent for more than a year, are still pending while the city works with a new vendor and vies for state funding to help with its restoration.

Local officials had originally hoped the wood carousel - cited by experts as a rare jewel - would be open this summer.

Heartbroken carousel lovers are making their voices heard with a grass-roots campaign that includes a new Facebook page and a petition drive.

More than 250 people have joined the group in less than a week, sharing memories and urging officials to act quickly.

"The response has been overwhelming," said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association.

"The Forest Park Carousel touched so many of their lives, and they all hope that years from now their little ones will be able to look back on it as fondly as they do now," he said.

The carousel is one of the last remaining works of master woodcarver Daniel Carl Muller. It dates back to the early 20th century but didn't arrive in Queens until the 1970s. It was brought to Forest Park to replace a carousel that had burned down in 1966.

The carousel fell into disrepair and was reopened in 1989 after a top-to-bottom renovation. But it fell into neglect again and its previous vendor, New York One LLC, pulled out almost two years ago.

City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) and others wrote letters to state officials in charge of historic grants, saying the carousel is the "heart and soul" of the Woodhaven community.

Parks Department spokeswoman Patricia Bertuccio said yesterday that negotiations were continuing and a reopening date has not been set.