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Bowlers hope to reopen Ozone Park alley

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Two Ozone Park bowling aficionados struck a deal last week that will bring strikes, spares and gutter balls back to south Queens by the end of the summer.

Mike Macchio and Diane Franzem reached a tentative agreement with AMF Bowling Worldwide, of Richmond, Va., to purchase the infrastructure of Americana Lanes, paving the way to reopen the alley that was closed at the end of May, they said.

The duo had negotiated a lease for the two-story building at 98-18 Rockaway Blvd., but ran into a stumbling block when AMF refused to sell them the bowling alley’s infrastructure, including its wooden lane beds, pin mechanisms and scoring computers.

Macchio, who ran the alley’s pro shop for 18 years, and Franzem, who once managed the facility, were worried they would not be able to afford to refurbish the lanes if AMF took everything with them after closing.

AMF owns Van Wyck Lanes in Richmond Hill and Macchio speculated they were reluctant to give up their equipment for competitive reasons.

“They just held off,” he said. “But it was going to cost them more to gut the house out then to give us the equipment. In the long run they save themselves some money.”

The new owners plan to spend $1.4 million to transform what they said was a rapidly deteriorating bowling alley into a state-of-the-art facility. Loans will help them provide the building with a new paint job, new scoring computers and modern plastic-coated synthetic lanes.

The 64-lane alley also will get a new name, Cozy Bowl, because bowlers began associating Americana with a “dump,” Macchio said.

Neighborhood residents were ecstatic that the bowling alley will be reopening under new management. The closure had left leagues, camps and recreational bowlers from Ozone Park and Howard Beach scrambling to find new homes for their games.

“People were very heartbroken,” said John Sinski, 49, of Ozone Park, who has bowled at Americana since he was 18. “This was a meeting place for people. It was almost like a community center.”

Lorraine Trotta, of Howard Beach, said her St. Helen’s church league, which had bowled at Americana for 12 years, already had signed a contract to move to Woodhaven Lanes in Glendale and did not know if they could get out of the agreement.

Macchio said he is not worried about filling the lanes. He already has received calls from leagues eager to move in and is confident people will enthusiastically return to a center that has been an Ozone Park institution for 42 years.

“It’s like a dream come true,” he said. “For all the years you spend at a place and the people you meet, I’m back with my friends and I’m happy for my community.”

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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