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Queens Chronicle

City finds no operator for carousel

Plans to issue another RFP for ride at Forest Park

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Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 2:09 pm, Thu Oct 13, 2011.

Nobody will be taking a spin on the Forest Park carousel any time soon, the city Parks Department acknowledged this week.

Despite the city’s most recent attempt to find an operator for the ride, it found no company suitable to care for the merry-go-round that was built in 1903 and has some of the last surviving creations of master wood carver Daniel Carl Muller — including 49 sculpted horses, a lion, a tiger, a deer and two chariots. There is also a carousel band organ.

“No viable proposals were received by Parks for the most recent [request for proposal] for the Forest Park carousel,” Trish Bertuccio, senior press officer for the Parks Department, wrote in an email. “However, Parks intends to re-release the RFP and will conduct extensive outreach to find a suitable proposer.”

One of only five carousels in the city, the Forest Park ride was operated by New York One until 2008, when the company let its contract lapse. The city has since issued three RFPs, with the final one going out in mid-April.

No one submitted proposals for the city’s first two RFPs, though officials said they did receive answers to applications after the most recent one.

Bertuccio said Parks does not have a set date for when it will release a fourth RFP.

“We’re trying to see what we can do to make it more enticing,” Bertuccio said of operating the carousel.

Maria Thomson, a civic activist from Woodhaven who has long advocated for restoration of the carousel, said she hopes the city is able to find an operator soon.

“They’re going to have to find a true artisan who loves carousels, who really will love it and treat it with the respect that is due,” she said.

According to an audit in April by city Comptroller John Liu, the company that ran the carousel until 2008 wildly mismanaged it.

Liu reported food carts at Forest Park were not properly licensed by the Health Department. Additionally, Liu said New York One owes the city about $450,000 for restoration and repair work.

Thomson said she would like to see a larger entertainment company from Manhattan operate the carousel.

“It’s a tremendous investment and a lot of money,” Thomson said. “I would encourage a company like Sony, or a really big entertainment company in Manhattan to come and bid on it. They could use it as a backdrop for their fashion shows and videos. It would be a great, great asset to any type of filming or commercials they want to make.”

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