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Coney Island's Iconic Astroland Park Closes For Year, Maybe For Good

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After 50 years on the boardwalk, Astroland Park closed for the season and possibly forever Sunday. NY1's Lily Jamali filed the following report.

Operators opened the gates to Astroland for what could be the last time on Sunday.

For the past 45 years, the amusement park has catered to New Yorkers eager to have a little fun — on a budget.

“This is what you call the poor people's paradise,” said Coney Island enthusiast Michael Ford, Jr.

No matter how old you were the first time you came here, it seems every New Yorker has a Coney Island memory.

“I remember my first time on the pirate ship,” said visitor Tara Moseder. “I remember my first time on the swings. I remember my first time on the Cyclone.”

“I was about seven years old and I was very afraid of The Cyclone. I went there with my dad,” said Ford. “I'm 57 years old now and I've never gone back on it again.”

But the landscape here is about to change. Thor Equities bought the land here in November, and company officials have said they're planning a glitzy, multi-million dollar amusement park to go in Astroland's place.

But they can't build right away. They'll have to wait while the city decides whether to rezone the property to accommodate other additions the company wants.

Protestors say since Thor can't build here until the end of the 2008 season, they want Astroland to stay through next summer. But the park's operator, Carol Albert, says Thor is asking for too much money to lease her the land next year.

“We've held off as long as we can,” said Albert. “Many think these rides should have been sold in the spring but I've been hopeful.”

Thor Equities didn't comment on camera for this story. But off camera, an employee who says he's familiar with negotiations says Albert wants to pay too little considering how much the park makes every summer. Albert wouldn't say how much that is.

“Just one more year. That's all we're asking,” said a protestor.

At this point, it looks like protestors just might get their wish.

“Thor Equities is putting together and trying to decide what their next offer will be to Carol Albert and Astroland to keep it open,” said Brooklyn City Councilman Domenic Recchia.

Both sides will have to act fast. As things currently stand, Albert is supposed to have the property cleared off by January. She says that means she'll have to put her rides on the auction block in a week and a half if there's no deal by then.

- Lily Jamali
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