Update: Luna Park admits to taking water from johnny pump

Where’s the fire?: Luna Park has hijacked this Johnny Pump to fill up the basin on its “Wild River” ride — without city permission.
Community Newspaper Group Will Bredderman

Luna Park acknowledged that it siphoned thousands of gallons of city water from a nearby fire hydrant without permission and has offered to pay for what it took — but only confessed to the heist after Brooklyn Daily posted a photo of a hose transporting the H2O to its water flume ride.

A reporter for this newspaper recently spotted workers from the amusement park — which, like most homeowners and merchants, gets a water bill from the city based on a meter installed on the premises — running a hose from a W. 10th Street johnny pump to its ride, where thrill-seekers float in log-shaped boats and are dropped 40 feet for a big, splash-filled finish.

Representatives of the theme park, who were supplied with our photo on Monday, initially didn’t comment on the apparent theft. But, once the photo was put online, they admitted that workers tapped into the hydrant when the ride’s water levels dropped during the last heat wave.

“In order to maintain the correct water levels, a maintenance team made a quick judgement call to use the hydrant,” Luna Park spokeswoman Chloe Gallo said. “The hydrant was used for a short period of time to add one to two inches, which equates to approximately 3,500 gallons of water. Discipline measures have been taken with the members of the maintenance crew involved.”

Fire Department officials say that the illegal use of the fireplug could lead to dangerously low water pressure in the area and would hinder the FDNY’s ability to put out infernos — a hair-raising scenario in light of the fact that the park’s namesake burned to the ground in 1944.

Several other Coney Island attractions, including Steeplechase Park, Dreamland, and the Ravenhall Baths also went up in flames over the last century, officials said.

“For a business to open a hydrant and bypass their water meter is stealing, and to put the bottom line above the safety of the people in the neighborhood they serve is morally wrong,” said Al Hagen, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

A Department of Environmental Preservation spokesman confirmed that the park, which sits on city land, is not allowed to use public fire hydrants.

The spokesman said an inspector was dispatched to check out our discovery, but didn’t catch workers using the hydrant. The inspector did give workers a stern warning about using public water, the spokesman said.

This incarnation of Luna Park opened in 2010. Central Amusements rents the property from the city.

An FDNY spokesman said anyone caught cracking open a city hydrant could receive fines of up to $1,000. Chronic users could receive 30 days in jail, and Luna Park officials say the workers responsible for the infraction will be disciplined.

Some People’s Playground watchdogs say the park should pay for its water like everybody else.

“They’re avoiding paying for water that every other business in Coney Island has to pay for,” said Friends of the Boardwalk president Todd Dobrin.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WillBredderman

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