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Old Posted Dec 5, 2005, 2:05 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Borough of Jersey
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Boardwalk Bahamas?

Call it Club Med meets Coney Island.

Banana boat rides and parasailing could soon join the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel as favorite Coney Island activities, the Daily News has learned.

The two Caribbean vacation staples are highlighted in a draft proposal for a "beach adventure concession" quietly circulated by the Parks Department last month.

"It's about time that our beaches have activities like they have in Aruba, the Bahamas and Florida," said City Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Coney Island).

The Parks Department wants operators to bring in rock climbing walls, trampolines and trapeze courses on the beach in front of KeySpan Park.

Tropical resort vacation activities such as banana boat rides or parasailing are also a possibility, officials said. "We'd love to see it. We think it would be very popular in Coney Island," said Liam Kavanagh, first deputy parks commissioner. "But we're not quite sure that it is going to work."

It's not yet clear if the ocean is too choppy or there is too much boat traffic for banana boats or parasailing, Kavanagh said.

Rich Welter, a former Long Islander who owns Sunset Watersports in Key West, Fla., said he thought the city's plan could work.

"It can't be too choppy for a banana boat. It makes it more fun," said Welter, adding that banana boat rides and parasailing are among his most popular offerings.

The proposal comes in the midst of a development boom in the faded seaside resort.

Developer Thor Equities is pushing to build a $1 billion entertainment and retail complex along Stillwell Ave., between Surf Ave. and the Boardwalk.

Most Coney Island regulars also said they can't wait.

"That sounds hot," said Justin Green, a college student who grew up nearby. "This is the best thing I've heard that's coming here."

"I like it," said Nathan's customer Shelby Dawson, who lives in Brighton Beach.

"I've never been to the Caribbean ... so this would give a lot of us down here a chance to experience something like that."

But Everett Keller, a construction company owner from Dyker Heights, said he didn't want Coney Island to turn into a Caribbean-style resort.

"Does this look like the Bahamas to you?" he said over lunch at Nathan's. "You ask most people and they'll say they like Coney Island the way it is."
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