NBC 4 New York
The Coney Island Cyclone, Wonder Wheel and other boardwalk attractions at Luna Park may be off limits on Independence Day as crews work through the night to dismantle the swaying Astrotower. Andrew Siff reports.
Crews were working to dismantle a portion of the Astrotower at Coney Island's Luna Park through the night before the July 4th, putting the Coney Island Cyclone, Wonder Wheel and other boardwalk attractions at risk of remaining closed through the holiday.
New York's Office of Emergency Management says engineers made the decision to take apart a small portion of the 275-foot-tall tower after it continued to sway high in the air Wednesday. The plan is work all night to cut the wobbly former ride down to a much shorter length.
"I think it's a good plan, for safety," said neighbor Christina Baldwin.
"It could destroy lives, and we don't need that."
The swaying forced an evacuation of Luna Park amusement park Tuesday, and the evacuation order remained in effect Wednesday as engineers and inspectors continued to assess the wobbly 275-foot tower.
Luna Park officials are awaiting the dismantling of the Astrotower and a final recommendation from the buildings department before determining whether the park would be reopened in time for the holiday.
"We're going to do everything we can to keep this park open," said city Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri.
"Tenth Street and 12th street will remain closed because that's in the collapse zone," said Frank McCarton, Deputy Commissioner of the city Office of Emergency Management. "So we're gonna maintain that closure until it's mitigated."
The Scream Zone at Luna Park, the Coney Island Raceway and the B&B Carousel will remain open to the public and are under normal operation, officials said.
Park officials say the tower often sways, which they describe as being part of its "unique charm." But park officials acknowledged the swaying has been more pronounced than usual the past few days.
Contractors were recently working on the Astrotower, removing part of an elevator in the structure, officials said.
"When you do that, you decrease the weight at the top, therefore you would get an additional sway," LiMandri.
"At the very base, it may move a couple of inches but as you go up it seems like it's increasing more," LiMandri said. "We know that it's increasing a foot and a half or so."
Though some of Coney's biggest icons may be off-limits, the Fourth of July hot dog-eating contest nearby at Nathan's will not be affected. Nathan's was open Wednesday.
"The rest of Coney is open and ready for action," Bloomberg said Wednesday morning. "And we expect thousands of people to head out to Coney Island for the biggest dog show in the world."
Visitors to Coney Island were sad to see the attractions shuttered Wednesday, but understood the situation.
"It's still a bummer but I'd rather not go where it's structurally unsafe," said Traci Wharton, a visitor from Arkansas. "You know, I'd rather not get hurt."