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Woodhaven Lanes rolls toward closing

The bowling alley on Woodhaven Boulevard in Glendale held a rally Saturday to draw attention to its plight, and bowlers and staff alike are hoping their second home can stay open.The manager of Woodhaven Lanes referred all media questions to alley owner Brunswick Corporation, which is based in Illinois. Brunswick, which is among the largest bowling alley companies in the world, confirmed in a statement its plans to close Woodhaven Lanes "later this spring, when our lease expires."Dan Kubera, a spokesman for Brunswick, said in a statement that the company believes Woodhaven Lanes is a prime location for a bowling center, and that Brunswick is exploring options that could keep the bowling alley open under different management."Our company, however, has been pursuing the strategy of concentrating and clustering our centers in areas where we already have a strong presence and Woodhaven Lanes is the only center we have in the five boroughs," Kubera said in a statement. If there is no new owner, the alley is to close by the end of May, he said.James, an Elmhurst resident and member of the Philippine Invitational Bowling Club, said Woodhaven Lanes was a second home for him and his family and they are hoping it will not close."My whole family comes here - two aunts, my brother, my uncle. It's the most convenient" alley in the borough, he said. "There are a lot of pro shops nearby, and it's going to be inconvenient for [the owner] and the others. It's sad for everybody. I just hope they stay open. I know a lot of people are really unhappy because this is their second home. I grew up in this house."Dorothea Carr of Brooklyn makes the trip to Forest Hills every Sunday to bowl with the Serenity League, of which she is treasurer. She hopes Woodhaven stays open because even though she crosses a borough line and spends an hour on mass transit to bowl, this is still the most convenient alley for her league."I wanted to bowl, and some people got together a league and we've been coming here 16 years," Carr said. "If this closes, we'll have to go to Manhattan. All the alleys in Brooklyn, they closed."Serenity and its weekly meetings at Woodhaven Lanes have created a sense of family and support among the bowlers, she said."This is a trophy league, not a money league, because we're in recovery" and avoid the temptation of gambling, she said. "This league is very important because we get all the people who don't know how to bowl and they learn, and at the end of the season we have prizes."On Sunday afternoon, many of the lanes were in use, often by families.A stack of petitions on a table at the entrance to the bowling alley was filled with dozens of signatures, many in the careful hand of bowlers whose ages are still measured in single digits. Some of the lane-clearing machinery bore the slogan "We love birthdays!" But Carr said she did not know where else children could or would go for bowling birthday parties because the borough's other two nearest alleys - AMF Van Wyck Lanes on Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill and Cozy Lanes on Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park - are not as accessible by subway or bus.Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at achristodoulides@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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