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Staten Island Ferris wheel: A 'wheel' raw deal

Not everyone in Staten Island is pro-wheel.

Staten Islanders say plans to have their borough host the world’s largest Ferris wheel just aren’t fair — and it’s more like the world’s largest eyesore.

On an island many New Yorkers dismiss as the “forgotten borough,” its residents say building the world’s tallest wheel is the last thing the area needs.

Announced last month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised the 625-foot wheel built by 2015, along with a new 350,000-square-foot shopping complex promised to flood the island with tourists.



But not all are lining up to take a ride. Instead, they say they're being taken for one.



“My blood is boiling,” said Cara Liander, 28. Liander just bought an apartment in St. George, Staten Island, drawn by the pristine skyline view from her living room, kitchen and bedroom.



Now, she says the wheel’s spokes will slice right through that vista -- and possibly lower her property value.



“Is anybody going to buy this place?” she fretted to Metro. “My question is, is it going to go up 20 percent in value or go down 20 percent in value?”



“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” she added. “It’s a scary thought.”



And she had another suggestion.

"If Mayor Bloomberg thinks it’s such a great idea, he should put it in
the back of Gracie Mansion and see how he likes it," she said.

Third-generation Staten Islander Bill Levay, 31, said the wheel may strip what little view he has when not blocked by trees in the spring and summer.



“Because I have a seasonal view as it is, it would be a shame to have that further obstructed,” said Levay, a new media coordinator for the United Federation of Teachers. “I imagine at night it would be tough, because I’m sure this thing will be lit up.”




Even wheel supporters – including community board officials and Borough President James Molinaro – find themselves sparring with neighbors.



“I’ve had more than one Facebook debate already,” said lifelong Staten Islander Frank Williams, a musician and director of sponsorship for the Prospect Park Alliance. “It’s very divided on the island right now.”



“I think it’s going to look amazing,” Williams continued. “It’s going to give our shore a distinctive skyline for the first time, and I think that’s really going to be key to announcing to the world that Staten Island is here. … Staten Island has so often been called the forgotten borough.”



Residents will have a chance to speak their mind. The wheel must go through a public-approval process, including public hearings, according to the city’s Economic Development Corporation.



EDC spokesman Kyle Sklerov told Metro no hearings are scheduled yet, but he estimated they would begin as early as this fall.



“We look forward to the start of the public approval process,” Sklerov said.



Community Board 1 district manager Joe Carroll said no residents were surveyed specifically about the wheel, but said locals have long bandied about ideas for jazzing up the shoreline.



“We’ve been yakking about this for years,” he told Metro.

Will Ferris wheel help Staten Island's economy?




Liander said she supports creating jobs and new construction. But she questioned whether the wheel, or as she calls it, “this crazy idea,” would bring people past the shoreline.



“They’re going to come, they’re going to take the ferry, they’re going to walk five minutes to the Ferris wheel and take the ride. Then they’re going to go right back to the ferry and take it back to Manhattan. That’s all that’s going to happen.”

Levay said losing his view would be a small sacrifice if the Ferris wheel does boost the local economy. But he remained skeptical.



“The idea here is to keep these people on Staten Island and spend this money,” he said. “I still wonder if people will venture any further onto the island.”

 
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