Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Of Carousels And Painted Ponies

Nunley Carousel Suddenly Appears On Everyone's Radar

We woke up this morning to a full e-mail box here at The Community Alliance. Funny. On the substantive quality of life issues that impact dearly upon pocketbook and psyche, a trickle. On a non-starter, a carousel of all things, a deluge.

Without attribution, most of the comments received on the recent Nunley carousel spat asked the same question: Why all the commotion over a merry-go-round when there are so many critical concerns – from property taxes to illegal housing – that we need to concentrate on?

Why indeed? After all, the Nunley carousel was dismantled when, yesterday? No. Try a decade ago. Since then, it’s been sitting in a warehouse gathering dust. Few seemed to notice, let alone care, that Baldwin was missing its famous landmark. Then, along comes Billy Joel, who apparently loves carousels almost as much as he enjoys driving his car through an occasional house, and Tom Suozzi, who just happened to have an old carousel on ice, with no money to restore to its former grandeur – in Baldwin or elsewhere. The Piano Man volunteered to raise money – privately – to fix the carousel and move it (from the warehouse, not Baldwin) to a location in Oyster Bay, and Tom Suozzi said, “Okay.”

Now we don’t have the inside track as to what Tom Suozzi was thinking, but it seems to me that the process went something like this: “I’m really not that concerned about where the carousel goes, as long as taxpayer dollars are not used to fix it up and move it. Next issue.”

Quite suddenly, as if the once proud carousel had only recently come to a screeching halt, another County – or at least a County Legislator in the form of Joe Scannell – is heard from. “We want our carousel in Baldwin!” Joe, where were you ten years ago? You just noticed the carousel was missing?

Then, like ants on a watermelon on a hot summer day, in march the great saviors of carousels – Republican County Legislators, and – riding that great white elephant (saved from destruction, no doubt, by the Town’s Adopt-A-Pet program) – the guardians of Town Hall in Hempstead. [SEE, It's A 'Good Thing', from the Oyster Bay Enterprise-Pilot.] “Here we come to save the day!” Why, surely Mighty Mouse himself would have been brought to tears. Hey, even yours truly, the original skeptic of all things governmental, was convinced. Suozzi bad. Town good.

Judging from the e-mails that even now continue to flood our in-box, we misread the County Exec, and were too quick to praise those who, with transparent selflessness, came to the aid of a fallen icon of amusement. Could it be that Tom Suozzi was saying, “Hey, I like carousels as much as the next guy, but we’ve got more important matters on the table and limited resources to play with. If someone from the private sector wants to pay to restore and relocate (from a warehouse, not Baldwin) this relic of the past, fine. We’ve got the future to worry about!”

Will private funds be raised to restore, move and maintain the carousel at the Town’s Baldwin Park? If taxpayer dollars are at stake, I’d like to put in a bid for this piece of south shore history for Echo Park in West Hempstead. :-)

As Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray put it, "Moving this south shore treasure to Oyster Bay makes about as much sense as moving the Coney Island Cyclone to Peoria, Illinois." Has the Supervisor taken a ride on the Cyclone of late? Did she complain when the Thunderbolt (which, in our humble opinion, trumped the Cyclone by far) came tumbling down? Has she been to Peoria?

Politics, like life, is a carousel. We get on the painted horse. We go round and round in circles, slow at first, then faster, then slow again. Up and down we go, to the upbeat melody of the calliope, reaching for the brass ring. Unlike life, where the music eventually quiets to a din and the forward motion stops, in politics, the carousel’s journey is seemingly endless, the circular motion relentless, and some of the riders just don’t know when to get off.

By the way, Binghamton, New York prides itself as “The Carousel Capital of the World.” Hmm. We wonder if they’d be interested in another carousel?

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