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Bowlers relish final games at AMF Lanes in Bellerose

The bowling center closed Friday after a lease dispute was settled by AMF Bowling Inc. and the landlord of the property. Richie Addison, the senior recreation therapist and Special Olympics coach from the Bernard Fineson Developmental Center in Corona, said the group, which is comprised of developmentally disabled individuals, will not understand that the alley has shut its doors for good."They'll be asking for bowling on Thursdays," he said, noting that he will need to find another activity to keep them occupied.After working with the team for at least four years, Addison said he has nothing but good memories of AMF Lanes."The guys, they just love it. I feel bad about it. This is one of the nicest, friendliest bowling alleys. Anytime we come they accommodate us. I'm definitely going to miss this place.""We're so sorry that they're closing. They never discriminated against us. It's something they're gonna miss," said a female recreation staff member from Bernard Fineson.The bowling company's vice president of marketing, Merrell Wreden, said last month the landlord planned on settling the matter in court before an agreement was reached. He also said it was in the company's best interest to have the landlord buy out the lease. Richie Dalcott has been casually bowling at the Bellerose location for six years. He said he hates to see the center close."It's bad for the community. We need a bowling alley here. We have enough shopping centers," he said.Addison said he will always remember the kindness of the alley's manager, Joe DeVita."Joe was always good to us. He's let us bowl for $3 per person. Usually that's just the cost for shoes.""It's groups like (that) that you're going to miss," DeVita said.As a manager of the bowling alley for six years, he said he has a mixed reaction to the closing because he will have another job with the company assisting district managers and working as a league coordinator."It's like if you lived in a house for 10 years and you're moving. You're sad to leave, but you're happy to move on."Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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