NY Coney Island's Astroland owner calls it quits

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NEW YORK (AP) -- The owner of Coney Island's Astroland said Thursday she is calling it quits and the historic amusement park will close for good on Sunday.

Carol Albert, whose family has owned the Brooklyn amusement park for almost a half century, said she gave up on negotiating a two-year lease with Thor Equities after the developer missed a Thursday deadline to reply.

Thor spokesman Stefan Friedman said the company is "extremely disappointed that Carol Albert has decided to give up on the future of Coney Island when her current lease isn't even up for a number of months."

The park was under threat of closing a year ago, but Thor - which owns the land under the park - and Astroland agreed to a one-year lease extension. It was not clear if another last-minute reprieve was possible this year. Albert said she wanted a two-year lease this time, to cover the summers of 2009 and 2010, because her 300 employees needed more job security.

Albert's father-in-law, Dewey Albert, unveiled the outer-space-themed Astroland park in 1962. For years, its future has been the focus of bickering among the developer, the ride operator and city officials.

With two dozen rides on three acres, Astroland covers a large part of Coney Island. But many other rides, including the historic Cyclone roller coaster and Wonder Wheel, are not part of Astroland and are not affected by the announcement.

Albert sold the Astroland acreage to Thor Equities two years ago for $30 million and has said the rides would be dismantled and auctioned off when the park closed.

Coney Island fans and community activists have accused the developer and the city of trying to gentrify the seedy neighborhood where the old rides sit alongside freak show attractions.

Thor had planned to break ground next year on a $1.5 billion complex including high-rise hotels and New York's first new roller coaster since the wooden Cyclone was built 75 years ago.


On the Net:

Astroland: http://www.astroland.com/

Coney Island: http://www.coneyisland.com/

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