Pier pressure

The National Parks Service wants to use food stands and a farmer’s market to feed hungry park-goers at the Canarsie Pier because it can’t find anyone to rent a dilapidated restaurant there that’s been closed for years — leaving pier users packing their own lunches.

Attempts to get a new concessionaire to move into the former Abbracciamento’s Restaurant, which closed nine years ago, failed last year due to a lack of interest and the high cost of renovations, so now the feds hope to rent space at the pier to ice cream trucks, gyro stands, and bait and tackle vendors.

“Having cart vendors sell food, beverages, fishing bait and fresh, locally grown produce will benefit visitors and the local economy alike,” said Linda Canzanelli, superintendent for Gateway National Recreation Area, which oversees the pier for the National Park Service.

Officials at Gateway would not say how many vendors they expect to bring to the pier. If a farmer’s market comes in, it would most likely be open on Saturday, federal officials said.

Interested vendors have until June 3 to apply, a deadline that’s been extended from May 20 — an indication that even street vendors haven’t been beating down the pier gate to get inside.

But that is nothing new for the beautiful piece of federal parkland. When the National Park Service searched for a concessionaire to take over Abbracciamento — which closed in 2002 — the deadline was extended repeatedly.

No one ever took the plunge as applicants realized how much work would have to go into bringing the building back from the dead.

A new concessionaire would have had to plunk down more than $2.5 million to operate a non-food service and $3.9 million for a restaurant, according to estimates figured by the National Park Service back in 2006.

But the restaurant isn’t the only problem. The pier itself will probably have to undergo a massive rehabilitation in the next few years, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Nowadays, food at the pier, visited by 400,000 people a year, is hard to come by: every once and awhile a Mister Softee truck can be found in the expansive parking lot next to the wharf, but fishermen and sun worshippers usually bring their own snacks other than risk going hungry, longtime pier-goers said.

Any local business wishing to become a vendor at the Canarsie Pier can do so by visiting http://www.nps.gov/gate/parkmgmt/businesswithpark.htm.

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