Another summer for Coney Boardwalk carnies

The Brooklyn Paper
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Old-school Coney Island will live on for one more season!

After a fourth-month court battle and a grueling seven-hour settlement deliberation on Monday, seven of the eight ousted Boardwalk businesses signed a new lease to operate in their original locations this summer.

An eighth business, the Shoot the Freak booth, got cash instead of a new lease, as its Boardwalk site had been bulldozed late last year to make room for an entrance to a new amusement area, the Scream Zone, set to open this spring.

“Freak” owner Anthony Berlingieri said he would reopen his paintball shooting gallery at his other attraction, Beer Island, just north of the Boardwalk on Stillwell Avenue.

“The deal was pretty fair to everybody,” he said. “I’m just glad to be back for one more summer.”

It may indeed be just one more summer. Berligieri’s beer garden sits on land controlled by Central Amusement International, the city-picked theme park operators that will likely expand further next year.

And the Monday night deal with the other seven businesses — including Ruby’s Bar and Cha Cha’s — stipulates that the operators cannot protest another eviction when the current leases expire on Nov. 1.

Still, boosters were hailing the last-minute summer-saving deal.

“It’s a great decision for all because it ends the anger and lets the summer be all about fun!” said Dick Zigun, who runs the Coney Island sideshow. “And it gives those Boardwalk businesses more time to relocate.”

Central Amusement first kicked out the Coney Island Eight in November to carry out a Bloomberg administration vision of glitzy stores and fancy sit-down restaurants — a plan that hasn’t materialized, partly because of the lengthy eviction battle, partly because of the economy, and, of course, because it’s winter.

Company president Valerio Ferrari admitted that his back was against the wall to make a deal with the mom-and-pops in order for the Boardwalk to be open for business by this spring.

“While this was not our original vision for the 2011 season, it is a viable plan that will keep Coney Island’s Boardwalk active this season,” Ferrari said in a written statement.

Aside from the current struggle, Central Amusement is largely succeeding in fulfilling the city’s Coney Island revitalization plan. The company opened Luna Park last summer, is constructing the Scream Zone now, and plans to renovate the 83-year-old Cyclone roller coaster. The amusement district kicks off its new season April 17.

On the downside, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced last week that it would not raise its big top in Coney Island this summer, a big blow to other businesses, as the circus drew more than 100,000 fans last summer.

Updated 2:52 pm, March 8, 2011: Now includes a comment from Central Amusements.
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Reader Feedback

drew from not that dump says:
crap, i need to wait another year before i can go back to that dump. oh well.
March 8, 2011, 2:51 pm
catherine from coney says:
hey drew stay whereever it is you are from do us all a favor and stay where ever it is you are. like i have stated in the past,iam glad all the old places are back. the old can coninside with the new coney
March 8, 2011, 9:39 pm
Boggy from Bensonhurst says:
I agree with Catherine. For Coney to be truly great, we need the new and also need to respect those businesses that kept Coney alive during the lean years. There HAS to be room for both!
March 9, 2011, 10:17 am
catherine from coney says:
thank u boggy i love all those out of towners putting their 2 cents in when they have no idea of what the y are talking about c u in coney
March 10, 2011, 7:21 am
michael from Brooklyn says:
Just recently moved to Brooklyn and was eager to see Coney Island, which of course I had heard of all my life, I think maybe from a song? I'd always had a mental vision of a place slightly quirky and maybe now a bit seedy, but still, I thought it would be very nice. To some it obviously is, but I was so disappointed. Really not at all what I had expected and I could not wait to ge away from there. Depressing, yucky and so ugly. Obviously, to each his own taste!
March 11, 2011, 5:15 pm
catherine from coney says:
hey mike
coney doesnt open till 4/16
maybe if you go when the season starts youll have a different attitude.
hey if you dont go fine 2
theres enough people hanging out there anyway
true brooklynites
its a cultural shock bklyn to anyone who wasnt born and raised here
March 11, 2011, 8:17 pm
Pam from born in Brooklyn says:
I was born in Brooklyn and Coney Island was always a seedy place. I loved the animal petting zoo across from Nathans during my preteens. I know Mike Sarrel and his wife Melody. I hope things work out for him and his family.
May 27, 2011, 11:16 pm
marilyn from mill basin says:
Save Rubys! Its such a special place and they make you feel so comfortable that you want to come back again and again!!
June 2, 2011, 12:51 pm

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