An online petition is calling on New York State to allow Adventureland Amusement Park to reopen from the coronavirus shutdown after the Farmingdale business was bumped from phase four of the state’s reopening plan.
A former employee started the Change.org petition, which was just short of its 7,500-signature goal as of this post, to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow the amusement park to reopen.
“I can’t tell you how much it touched us when we saw they were doing that for us,” said Steve Gentile, the owner of Adventureland. “Hopefully it raises some awareness for what is going on in our industry as far as keeping our industry on lockdown.”
Amusement parks statewide were closed along with most other businesses to curb the spread of coronavirus when its spread peaked in New York in March. But amusement parks and arcades were among a handful of industries, including movie theaters, that were left out of the fourth and final phase of the reopening plan. So were gyms, bowling alleys, casinos, and malls, but those industries were belatedly allowed to reopen.
Gentile said it was “unsettlingly stunning” to learn that Adventureland was left out of phase four when the Long Island region reached that level of reopening in July. He said the company bought cleaners, set up social-distancing plans, and was going to cap capacity to ensure park-goers remained safe, but never had a chance.
“Each week that went by was just a fight,” he recalled. “We came to the reality in early August that they wouldn’t reopen the park.”
The park’s season normally ends with a Halloween celebration. It’s now hoping the state will allow it to reopen in the spring, and that it can get some financial support to survive until then after losing a year’s worth of revenue.
“There’s not many businesses out there that can go this length of time with zero income,” he said, noting that he couldn’t hire his 650 staffers this season.
He noted that realtors routinely call to see if he’s interested in selling the prime real estate on Route 110, but he always declines. But now he leaves the door open to that option.
“If this continues to go the way they’re going, that might have to be a avenue that would have to be addressed,” he said.
Gentile points out that amusement parks across the tristate area have reopened, just not in the Empire State.
“Entertainment dollars from New York and Long Island are going across state lines to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, where amusement parks are open,” he said. “The state is losing revenue that way.”
He questioned why an open-air amusement park couldn’t be deemed safe to reopen.
“It’s confusing when you see other industries open up,” he said. “What’s difference between a casino and an arcade? It gives out dollars instead of toys.”
In the meantime, Adventureland and others in the amusement park industry have hired lobbyists to make their case with lawmakers in Albany. And if that doesn’t work, they’re considering a class-action lawsuit.
“That’s our last resort,” he said.
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