City not doing enough for carousel, owner says

Irma Lemus

MEDIA CITY CENTER -- Despite a pledge of support, the owner of the

antique carousel in the Media City Center mall said the city is not doing

enough to ensure the historic amusement will remain in town.


When the deal to sell the three-level, 350,000 square foot Media City

Center mall collapsed last month, it appeared to signal a reprieve for

the 1895 Looff carousel. Prospective buyer Zelman Development Companies

had said it would remove the carousel to make way for major renovations


of the lower floor of the mall.

But carousel owner Bradford Perron said that with the mall still for

sale, the future of the carousel in Burbank remains very much in doubt.

Perron of Oregon-based Historic Carousels, Inc. said he flew to

Burbank to meet with city officials Sept. 20 and came away unoptimistic

about the long-term prospects of keeping the carousel here.

Citing that meeting and a subsequent letter from Burbank Redevelopment

Project Manager Jack Lynch, Perron said the city is unwilling to consider


other options for keeping the carousel in Burbank and that some local

officials blame the carousel for the mall dealing falling through.

The letter “sounded as if we were a thorn on the merchant’s side. It

took a position that there’s not really enough worth fighting for,” said


But Lynch and City Councilman Bob Kramer, who both met with Perron

when he was in Burbank, said the city has supported keeping the carousel

in Burbank. Perron’s suggestion of relocating the carousel -- which


requires a weatherproof enclosure -- to a park or other location would

cost between $450,000 and $500,000, is not a viable option, they said.

On Nov. 2, with the council’s backing, Mayor Stacey Murphy said she

would send a letter to Zelman asking the developer to keep the historic

carousel in the mall. Kramer said that until another buyer comes forward,

there is not much the city can do.

“We certainly support the carousel, but ultimately the new buyer will

make the decision,” said Kramer. “Maybe the company that buys the mall

will want to keep the carousel.”

Perron said he has received letters from hundreds of supporters and he

is considering starting a “Burbank Friends of the Carousel” group to

demonstrate the value of the antique ride to local residents.

“You just can’t wipe out everything that is old -- it’s history. By

doing that you’re sacrificing the quality of life,” he said. Perron is

likely to find an ally for his efforts in Nancy Hutchins, a descendant of

carousel designer Charles I.D. Looff.

After reading that the carousel might be removed from the mall in a

Sept. 25 Leader story, Hutchins started a petition campaign. She said she

has gathered more than 5,900 signatures from people who support keeping

the carousel in the mall. Though her petition spurred the council to

announce its support for the carousel, Hutchins said she believes the

city can do more.

“It was disheartening that they didn’t feel they needed to take a

supportive role,” she said.