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Plans For Staten Island Ferris Wheel Going Ahead Despite Sandy Damage

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Despite critics who said it is too soon after Superstorm Sandy – and that construction in a flood zone is not a good idea – developers of what would be the world's largest Ferris wheel on Staten Island are moving forward with their plans.

"There are far more people in the community and in the city that are in favor of this than there are against," said Richard Marin of New York Wheel.

As 1010 WINS' Gene Michaels reported, Marin said the Ferris wheel will be built to withstand a Force 3 Hurricane, and that Sandy put more scrutiny on its design, so developers are ready.

1010 WINS' Gene Michaels reports


"There were a number of reasons why we, under direct advisement from City Hall, chose to stay on course. I mean, in many ways, getting this project done depends very heavily on getting it done while the current administration is in office," Marin said.

Marin conceded that a developer's reaction after a disaster might be "to stop and assess and to spend a couple years letting the dust settle." But he said that was not an option, because of the need to get it done with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the helm.

He said the public needs to realize this is not a taxpayer-supported project.

"(They say), well, instead of spending, you know, half a billion dollars on a facility like this, put it back in the homes for people," he said. "But this is not public money."

WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reports


Marin said Staten Island is lucky to have what he called the biggest project since the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge pushing ahead, WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported.

The new Ferris wheel would be the centerpiece of a new complex which would also include a hotel, a 350,000 square foot retail space called "Harbor Commons" that would be adjacent to the Richmond County Bank Ballpark.

At 625 feet tall, it would be taller than the current tallest Ferris wheel, the Singapore Flyer (541 feet), the planned "High Roller" wheel in Las Vegas (550 feet), and the London Eye (443 feet). The wheel would have 36 capsules, capable of carrying 40 people each.

By comparison, the first Ferris wheel – which was the largest attraction at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 – measured only 324 feet.

In announcing plans for the Staten Island Ferris wheel in September, the mayor's office estimated the wheel would draw as many as 30,000 riders per day and 4.5 million visitors a year. A ride on the Ferris wheel would take about 30 minutes, start to finish.

Marin hopes approval for the Ferris wheel will come in 2013, and groundbreaking in 2014.

Do you think the Ferris wheel should be called off due to the devastation from Sandy? Leave your comments below...

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