Messing With the Wrong Merry-Go-Round

Of all the things wrong (see: It’s Too Easy Being Green) with the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the seasonal merry-go-round that sits near Christopher Columbus Park is not one of them. It’s a welcome splash of congenial chaos in a city often allergic to anything bolder than a black sign with gold letters, and an oasis of humanity in an awkward strip of land that remains largely lifeless. And perhaps most amazingly, the carousel, which is operated by a New Hampshire-based contractor, actually makes money for the park — to the tune of $1,000 per month plus 25 percent of ticket sales, netting nearly $200,000 over the past three years.

So it should come as no surprise that the Greenway Conservancy is trying to screw it up.

According to a recent Herald story, the Conservancy wants to replace the current set of fillies with a $2.9 million dollar custom-made ride featuring turtles, seals, and sea serpents adapted from local schoolkids’ drawings. You, me, and everybody else in the Commonwealth have already eaten a quarter million in design and planning expenses, and when this white elephant is done, we’ll probably get stuck with the tab for the employees to operate it. Jesse Brackenbury, the Greenway’s director of business operations, says they’re more focused on “fun” than turning a profit. And that’s their business director talking.

All of this might be moot if the Greenway weren’t already gobbling public funds or if the existing carousel was regularly maiming small children and flinging body parts across the Surface Artery. But the State is broke, taxpayers are broke, and the ride there now is not merely jim-dandy — but also profitable. No one, not even Gadsden-flag waving Tea Partiers, would ask the Greenway Conservancy to turn a profit overall, but the sheer madness of this scheme makes one wonder what in fresh hell is in the water over there. Transportation Secretary Richard Davey has given the group six months to come up with a plan to be self-sustaining by 2018. The better question would be why they’re even being given the chance.