City sends Coney carnies to the boneyard

City sends Coney carnies to the boneyard
Photo by Matthew Nedbalsky

It’s the Jones Walk — of death!

The city has given pink slips to the operators of nearly a dozen old-school carny game boothes in the heart of Coney Island’s amusement district — on Jones Walk, the seedy strip between Surf Avenue and Bowery Street that links Luna Park to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park — refusing to re-up their leases that expired this month.

Now, the city says it wants to move in a single long-term operator to take control of the space.

Spokesman said the city is looking for a long-term operator to open new games and attractions on strip, which takes up prime space in the heart of the amusement district, nestled between the new Luna Park and the old-school Dino’s Wonderwheel Park.

“We’re looking forward to bringing new, state-of-the-art entertainment that will further revitalize Coney Island,” said Kyle Sklerov of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the quasi-government agency that is overseeing the city’s property in Coney

The city purchased the land in 2009 around the same time it bought an adjacent seven-acre parcel from developer Joe Sitt. Sitt still owns land adjacent to Jones Walk that fronts on Surf Avenue.

Carnies continued leasing the booths from the city, but said they saw the writing on the wall.

“We knew [all along] they were going to bring in new people,” said Anthony Raimondi, who ran Gangster Cigars and two other stands.

Some of Coney’s faithful said they hoped the city would replace them with affordable attractions.

“People like games of chance where they don’t lose too much money,” said Dick Zigun, the unofficial mayor of Coney Island and man behind Sideshows by the Seashore. “That’s part of the carnival and amusement park tradition.”

Responses to the city’s request for proposals for the site are due on Dec. 7.

Skelrov said new attractions could open in time for the 2012 summer season.

The game booth closings capped a wild two-weeks for Coney, during which five Boardwalk businesses — including Cha Cha’s bar and Beer Island closed by the city-picked theme park that was tapped to turn Coney Island into an upscale, year-round destination.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.