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Will the Staten Island amusement park and go-kart track planned for the former Safari Golf site ever be completed?

STATEN ISLAND, NY — In 2016, the New York City Parks Department promised Staten Island a miniature golf course, a bumper car pavilion, a go-kart track and more. Scheduled to be built on the corner of Arthur Kill Road and Richmond Avenue, the sprawling project was to replace the former Safari Golf and Val’s Pizzeria amusement park, which had long since fallen into disrepair. Six years later, the inhabitants of the borough are still waiting.

“We are pleased that construction has begun with Vista East Amusements, and we plan to open the site next spring,” Lynda Ricciardone, then Staten Island Parks Commissioner, told Advance/SILive in an article published on September 14, 2016detailing plans for an on-site restaurant and other entertainment-type concessions.

On a recent visit remnants of Safari Golf are visible through the construction fence. (Staten Island Advance/Jessica Jones-Gorman)

But that launch date has come and gone, and despite some random construction activity behind the green fence, there are still no definitive answers about what’s being built there and when the project will materialize.

“This is a Parks concession that will include a restaurant serving Italian fare, including charcoal-oven pizza, and an amusement park with batting cages, miniature golf, go-karts, and more,” a New York Parks Department press representative said in an email. “This concession has experienced several delays, ranging from utility connection issues to pandemic-related delays, including supply chain issues. We expect the site to open by this summer.

This correspondence took place on April 11. When pressed about it again on October 4, Crystal Howard, Assistant Commissioner of Communications for the Parks Department, said the following: “Our operator hopes to open the restaurant this fall and the amusement park during the 2023 season.

Confirming that the site is still operated by Brooklyn-based Vista East Amusement Inc., an entity that has been used by the city to run golf course-style concessions in other boroughs, the parks department referred questions on the project schedule to this operator. . Several calls and emails to the company have yet to be returned.

In June 2016, Vinny LaRocca, then president of Vista East, spoke to Advance/SILive about his role in replacing Al Deppe – an iconic drive-in restaurant/arcade that lived on this Greenridge site from the 1930s through the 1960s.

“People passed by when construction started on the site, and they told us they had pictures of Al Deppe,” LaRocca said. “I’m collecting some photos and will definitely put them on the wall of the new restaurant.”

According to the article, at this stage of development, the project has received $124,450 in capital funding for the amusement park and $549,300 for the restaurant.

And while there is no visual evidence of an imminent opening, there is evidence that planning for the restaurant is currently underway.

According to records filed with the New York State Liquor Control Mapping Project (LAMP)Vista East applied for a liquor license at 831 Arthur Kill Rd. on June 8, 2022. Still pending approval, this application was filed for an establishment called “Corrado’s Cucina”.

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A building shell has been erected at 831 Arthur Kill Rd., but there is no activity inside. (Staten Island Advance/Jessica Jones-Gorman)

And earlier this month, job postings were found for this same establishment on Glass door, In effect and just hired.

“Restaurant manager, bar manager, bartenders, head chef, line cooks, prep cooks, pizza maker, waiters, bussers, hosts, cashiers and delivery drivers, etc.,” the listing reads, ranking all positions as “immediate hire”.

“We need all positions filled, please email us at [email protected] or call us at (917) 836-0080 to schedule an interview,” the listing continues.

There was no immediate response to inquiries from Advance/ regarding vacancies.