Perched in front of T-shirts emblazoned with “Save the Forest Park Carousel,” Woodhaven Residents Block Association leaders declared at their Saturday meeting that they are, once again, going to bat to ensure the beloved merry-go-round is landmarked.
WRBA President Ed Wendell announced at the meeting, held at the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps, that his organization is putting together a Forest Park carousel landmarking committee.
“We’ll be making a lot of noise about this,” Wendell said. “We’re going to make sure it’s going to get done.”
Maria Thomson, a WRBA board member and civic activist, has been pushing to landmark the carousel for the past two decades but has consistently been met with resistance from the city, she said.
Residents hope this time around, they can be persistent, and vocal, enough that the city will feel a little more pressure to landmark a structure that was built in 1903 and holds 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.
“We want to landmark the carousel so we can preserve it in its current state and keep it in Forest Park,” Thomson said. “This carousel is priceless and deserves to be landmarked for future generations.”
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 requests for proposals, with the final one going out in mid-April.
No one submitted proposals for the city’s first two RFPs, but officials said they did receive answers to applications after the most recent one. Still, the city said it found no “suitable” companies to run the merry-go-round.
Parks spokeswoman Trish Bertuccio said last month that the department intends to re-release an RFP and will “conduct extensive outreach to find a suitable proposer.”
Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) said at Saturday’s meeting that he has been working with Independence Residences Inc., a nonprofit that assists individuals with physical and mental disabilities, to see if it could take over the carousel.
The IRI runs a cafe in downtown Woodhaven, in which disabled residents learn to hold down regular jobs.
“Any money that’s made, they’re willing to put into a fund to restore it,” Miller said of the carousel. “It’s something we’re exploring. It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, but we’re trying.”
Area residents have intensified efforts to save the carousel after the city announced it had once again not found an operator, including the WRBA’s sale of “Save the Forest Park Carousel” T-shirts, which Wendell said have been going like hot cakes.