Parachute Jump lovers: Hey Marty! Take the leap!

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Borough President Markowitz wants the city to plunk down $2 million to outfit Coney Island’s historic Parachute Jump with enough lights to make it visible from orbit, but amusement ride enthusiasts say he should put the money into something more important — fulfilling his 2008 promise to update and reopen the 73-year-old icon.

“For a few million dollars I could have hired some engineers and gotten the thing up and running,” said Walter Reiss, an amusement industry expert and former theme park operator said.

Rob Burnstein, president of Coney-Brighton Boardwalk Alliance, agreed.

“It’s sad that for so long the Parachute Jump has been closed,” Burnstein said. “It would suit Coney Island much better if the money was spent to make the ride operable again.”

But Markowitz currently has no plans to retrofit the Parachute Jump. Instead, he wants to make it one of the most expensive light fixtures in history.

“We’ll relight the Parachute Jump with enough bling so it can be seen from outer space,” Markowitz — who will be term-limited out of Borough Hall at the end of 2013 — promised during his annual State of the Borough address on Feb. 1. “I know that this will be done before I leave office.”

It’s a reversal from 2008 — the last time the Giants beat the New England Patriots — when Markowitz told State of the Borough attendees that it was his “dream” to “make the parachute jump ride operational once more.”

“If the Giants can beat the Patriots, there’s no reason we can’t ride the parachute in this new century!” he said.

But, today, Markowitz says he would be happy just to see the Parachute Jump lit up.

“I would be thrilled to see it restored to its original, fully functioning form,” he told us. “Unfortunat­ely, it is currently financially and technologically infeasible. I hope that changes, but in the meantime I can’t wait until the Parachute Jump is ‘blinged out.’”

The Economic Development Corporation, the city agency in charge of funding the lighting project, is backing Markowitz’s plans, and is poised to issue a request for bids from companies interested in installing lights on the dark and defunct — but landmarked — 262-foot tower next month, agency spokesman Kyle Sklerov said.

But illuminating the Parachute Jump is becoming a pricey endeavor: the $2 million Markowitz has earmarked will bring its lighting bill to a staggering $3.4 million.

In 2006, the city tapped designer Leri Schwendinger to install a $1.4 million lighting system consisting of 17 lamps and 150 lighting fixtures that kept the ride illuminated on summer nights.

Two years later, Markowitz convinced Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council to set aside an additional $2 million to redo the lighting system more to his liking, after complaining that it wasn’t bright enough to suit the People’s Playground, which is in the process of being transformed into a glitzy, year-round destination.

That money hasn’t been spent, but the city has extinguished Schwendinger’s light display — except for several blinking red lights — in preparation for the overhaul.

Yet some agree with Markowitz — refurbishing the ride might not be worth it. If Brooklyn wants a drop tower ride, they should get a new one, amusement industry expert Ed Pribonic explained.

“You can buy a standard drop tower for $3 million,” Pribonic said, adding that a drop tower with all the bells and whistles could cost up to $7 million.

Still, Coney Island residents said a more pimped out Parachute Jump would be in keeping with the neighborhood’s character.

“Coney Island is not the place for subtlety,” said Dick Zigun, the man behind Sideshows by the Seashore. “Marty’s right to want something flashier.”

The parachute jump was built for the 1939 World’s Fair and relocated to Coney Island two years later. For 40 cents, visitors plummeted for 15 seconds from the top of the tower to the ground below.

The tower closed in 1965, and was declared a city landmark in 1988.

Updated 3:09 pm, February 9, 2012
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Reasonable discourse

jerry from brighton beach says:
I'll tell you one ting for sure :

BP Marty Markowitz surely knows how to piss away the taxpayers money.( This has already been documented. Remember he was fined, already a couple of times). He signed off on the original lighting project. What the hell it only cost us $ 1.4 million what's anolther $ 4 million to marty.
As long as Marty gets his way , it's OK !
Marty :Don't let the Borough Hall door hit you on the way out in 2013 !
Your Parachute lighting project failed.
Take responsiblity & stop passing the buck down the road.
Feb. 8, 2012, 9:30 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
26 years of operating.

46 years of inoperation.

It makes sense that this would be a landmark for Borroklyn!
Feb. 8, 2012, 10:03 am
Bay Ridger from Bay Ridge says:
I like the idea of lighting it up. It should be year-round and lit like the Eiffel Tower is - ever see that? It's great. But, let's get one or a couple of the CI developers to do it; not public funds.
Feb. 8, 2012, 10:13 am
Gr from Bklyn says:
Bling? Marty's been spending too much time dreaming about courtside seats with Jay-Z.

What a joke this guy is. Brooklyn's shame.
Feb. 8, 2012, 11:35 am
nancy from coneyisland says:
has anyone seen the paracutte jump. its falling appart and rotting away from all the seagulls and pigions ——ting on it. they are building around it but not fixing the jump.go ahead and lite up arelic thats falling down;i recall when they fixed it in 02 they promised that they were doing it 2 make it operational.and they did that to make up go for the whole thing, and t ake our money. now they are gonna do it again.forget that.take your dumb ideas somewhere else marty.use your own money to do what you want to do not my hard earned money
Feb. 8, 2012, 9:23 pm
Donna Harry says:
I also like it and enjoy doing this. window replacement
Feb. 9, 2012, 5:12 am
Blake from Brooklyn says:
“We’ll relight the Parachute Jump with enough bling so it can be seen from outer space,” Markowitz.

That says it all, what an idiot Markowitz is. Sure it would be nice to light up the tower, but enough to be seen from outer space? Or was that just a metaphor?
Curious to know if he's got friends in the lightning business.
Feb. 9, 2012, 10:10 am
Homey from Crooklyn says:
Let's shoot Marty the Putz into outer space.
Feb. 10, 2012, 2:23 pm
Barry from Gowanus says:
Lets see Marty take the first jump! but without the parachute.
Feb. 10, 2012, 3:14 pm
julio vazquez from now in florida says:
when i was a kid i took my first 1959 .i was borne in would be nince to light up the tower.........?
Feb. 11, 2012, 4:44 am
Feb. 20, 2012, 9:04 pm
Marie from Queens says:
The money should be used to re-operate the Parachute Jump again. Re-lighting it is just a waste of time and money!!

Maybe when he is out of office, someone else will take on the project.
Feb. 24, 2012, 7:35 pm
Laura from Flushing says:
Oh the humanity!!!! Build a new Parachute Jump on the famous boardwalk or re-modernize the old one!!

Who gives a crap about lighting it? If they make it operable again with the $2,000,000, new night lights would be seen from all over anyway.

Zamperla should seriously look into this matter because the Parachute Jump or a new one operating on a smaller scale still would generate enough money for Coney Island to operate many more thrill rides on the boardwalk.

Good luck with this one!!!!
June 3, 2012, 1:25 pm
Lisa from Flushing says:
Bring it back already!!! The boardwalk needs an operating Parachute Jump with colorful and majestic lights for all to see!!!

Thrills, Thrills and more Thrills1!!!
Aug. 7, 2012, 2:39 pm

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