Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2005 10:54 AM | Contributed by Jeff
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to make a major announcement at Coney Island Tuesday, and sources say it might be about his plans to buy the Coney Island Carousel.
Read more from NY1.
If anyone wanted to keep that ride in Coney Island, then it should have been Astroland, Deno's, Nathon's, or the operators of Key Span Park, where the baseball stadium is.
NYC has bids out 12 months a year for concession operators at every facility imaginable. I can only dream what kind of people will win the bid to operate the ride. I bet it will be that family, who now have pushed all of their maintenence costs off onto the city, and now they get a new building. They must have gotten tired of not reinvesting back into their business,
I am no fan of Ettinger or Guerney's Auction house and their track record with carousels is wretched and painful. They pulled a lot of antics in the last few months that really eft me really po'd; unfortunately I'm not sure any of them are illegal. The McCulloughs felt somewhat trapped in the Spring when the CIDC announced their initial plans and they felt that the carousell and building were going to be taken by emminent domain laws - I'm not sure if they felt they were in a position to deal with the city at that point and if you're familiar with Coney Island politics and business it's pure insanity to say the least.
The McCulloghs are good people and if they could reinstate the two women that ran the carousell I'd be thrilled. The McCulloughs are trying to get out of Coney Island - James is probably is in his late 80's at this point and Carol's involvement in the business has become less and less over the years. I am pretty sure that they sold the land that their kiddieland is on (W12th St and Bowery) to Thor Equities. After Mike Saltzman died in 2002 (co-owner of the B&B) everyone thought it was over, but the McCullough's kept the machine open and running well. The McCulloughs are the last of the Tilyou clan (Steeplechase Park) left at Coney so I'm sad to see them fade away. If Agent J knows something more about back taxes or deliquent bills on the part of the B&B please share as this the first I'm hearing of it.
In regards to the maintanance costs, firstly the mechanics of the machine may be ancient but they are in great shape. The horses do need a lot of work and the city has already taken donations to offset this cost and the cost of the purchase (and will continue to do so). Also, a number of carousel conservancy groups have stepped forward to volunter their services to do much of this work. If you look at the deal they NYC has with Astroland and the Cyclone - Astroland is responsible for all maintence and operations of the Cyclone and that for one seems to work more than well.
My 2 cents!
Jim 'jimvid' McDonnell
I do hope that the Parks Dept. does something other than what they do with the other machines they own, putting the operation out to bid. Most of the concessionaires that have them use it soely to hawk hot dogs and popcorn, and the operation of the ride is an adjunct. They run them into the ground until it's no longer safe to run and then bail out. This has happened a couple of times to the Central Park machine.
As far as the McCullough's I knew Edo fairly well. He had sold his last two machines to the city back in the early 1960's. They combined them (the former Stubbman and McCullough machines) into one machine, and it's the one out at Flushing Meadows now.
I'm totally not dismissing your point - as I've had a many a conversation with the mechanics on the Cyclone speaking/complaining about all of the custom-machined parts they have to get on an annual basis to keep the trains going. There is also most likely (*sniff*) some updating that will have to be done to the B&B to keep it 'up to code'. Mike Saltzman who operated and maintained the carousel was super-insane about the maintenance of the machine and at the time of his death had about 4-5 spare/back-up pieces of every working part in the carousel. So whoever gets handed the carousell for it's move across the street should hopefully have quite of cache of components to work with.
I, along with you, hope that the city will find right concessionaire for the machine and operate as closely to how it did up til this May.
Jim 'jimvid' McDonnell
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