Operator sought for Forest Park carousel by city

Photo by Christina Santucci
By Howard Koplowitz

The carousel in Forest Park has been shut for three years, but that may change soon after the city Parks Department announced last week it is requesting proposals for bids on the historic structure.

Those interested in the Forest Park carousel will also have to submit bids to take over operations of the carousel at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, whose contract expires in April.

“Taking the family on a carousel ride in a park is a treasured New York City experience,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “We hope to receive proposals from companies with strong backgrounds in developing, operating and maintaining carousels and amusement venues so that the carousels at Forest Park and Flushing Meadows Corona Park can continue to delight New Yorkers for many generations to come.”

Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Block Association, said he was hoping someone would be interested in operating and maintaining the Forest Park carousel, which is near Strack.

“The carousel’s been an important issue to us for the last couple of years ever since we heard that it wasn’t going to open in the summer of 2009,” he said.

New York One LLC is the vendor of the Flushing Meadows carousel and subcontracts the attraction to Sal Napolitano, who was turned down by Parks to operate the Forest Park carousel even though the agency lists Napolitano as a “carousel expert” on its website.

“There’s not many of those around,” Wendell said. “I’m hoping [Napolitano will] come back. I’m hoping he’ll be there and resubmit his proposal.”

The Forest Park Carousel holds some of the last surviving creations of master woodcarver Daniel Carl Muller, Parks said.

Muller crafted figures for 12 carousels in his lifetime and the Forest Park carousel is one of only two that remain.

The Flushing Meadows Corona Park Carousel is one of the city’s four vintage carousels, Parks said.

That carousel is a combination of two earlier Coney Island carousels, the Feltman Carousel, which was constructed around 1903, and the Stubbman Carousel, which opened around five years after the Feltman Carousel.

The Flushing Meadows hybrid debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair, Parks said.

The agency is holding a walkthrough of both carousels to those interested in submitting a bid Jan. 12.

Also up for grabs under the RFP process are snack bars in both parks.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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