That is the message the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) is sending when it comes to their most recent push to turn the historic Forest Park Carousel into a landmark.
Looking to gather support from local groups, WRBA announced last week the formation of a landmarking committee dedicated to preserving the carousel — a goal that has been nearly two decades in the making, according to block association members.
At last week’s monthly meeting, Ed Wendell, the block association president, said the association would soon reach out to several local civic groups, including the Woodhaven and Richmond Hill historical societies, Richmond Hill Block Association, Richmond Hill Civic Association, and others in order to push toward landmark status for the iconic structure.
The Forest Park attraction one of only five operating in New York City, including Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Central Park in Manhattan, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, and Willowbrook Park in Staten Island.
Figures for the carousel — such as horses, unicorns and bears — were crafted by now deceased master wood carver Daniel Carl Muller. It was opened in 1903, but when it burned down in 1966, the current classic figures, also carved by Muller, were recovered and used in a full restoration of the carousel.
The venue has been left without an operator since 2008, when the contract between its previous concessionaire, New York One LLC, and the city Parks Department expired. Since then, three Requests for Proposals (RFP) from bidders looking to run the operation have been fruitless.
As an alternative, declaring the carousel a landmark would open up funding to preserve it. Such funding would otherwise be unavailable, according to Maria Thomson of the WRBA. She said landmarking the carousel would permanently keep the structure in Forest Park instead of moving it to another location.
“It’s a historical piece and it deserves to be historically landmarked to preserve it for the future and for all our children and their children,” said Thomson. “It belongs in Forest Park where it started.” Citing the age and the history involved Wendell explained the importance of the proposed landmarking, “It is part of the fabric of the neighborhood; it’s very important to keep that preserved,” he said.
While acknowledging the difficulties the Parks Department has experienced in finding an operator, Wendell said that the department had not been receptive when the idea to landmark the park icon was brought before them in the past.
With a strong push and local support behind them, Wendell hopes that the outcome will go in their favor this time. “We will be making a lot of noise on this. We’re going to make sure it gets done.”
By Jean-Paul Salamanca