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PlaylandWatch's Proposal Takes Simple Approach to Reinventing Historic Park

PlaylandWatch.org submitted its Playland proposal to the county on Feb. 2. The plan outlines 50 suggestions that the group claims would increase attendance and revenues while decreasing expenditures.

PlaylandWatch.org submitted a Playland proposal to Westchester County Wednesday that aims to reduce costs and increase attendance while

"We chose Groundhog Day to submit our proposal because it is a day of foretelling, and like Bill Murray in the movie, we believe the county would benefit from adopting a more positive and less fatalistic attitude toward Playland," the group said on its website.

PlaylandWatch.org said it is the first group to their knowledge to submit a proposal. However, Westchester County Department of Parks Spokesman Peter Tartaglia said that he couldn't disclose the receipt of any proposals until after the March 10 deadline has passed. 

Sustainable Playland, Inc., a non-profit organization led by Rye resident Sandhya Subbarao, has hired consultants to create the group's proposal. To fund the effort, which it estimates will cost $150,000,

"Winning ideas will lay out plans to reverse the current financial misfortunes of the park by creating a new business model that is both sensitive to what the park has been and in step with what it must be to survive," County Executive Robert Astorino said in a statement. 

In its proposal, PlaylandWatch.org, a group spearheaded by a man named "Playland Jack" who has not revealed his real name, takes a simple approach to streamlining the park's costs. It says that "all of the recommendations contained in this proposal are self-funding," and that it has not included any construction costs or changes to the park's current zoning, nor has it solicited money from lenders.

"PlaylandWatch.org believes that the county has the necessary financial resources and professional experience necessary to carry out the recommendations," the proposal states. "It is intended that the county will carry out the recommendations described in this proposal."

The group claims that its recommendations "will achieve annual profit of $1 million, boost attendance by 9.6 percent and increase total amusement park revenue by 16.7 percent to $13.1 million." It estimates that the park's expenses could also be reduced 10.9 percent to $12.1 million.

So how does the group intend to meet these financial goals?

In a 60 second video, PlaylandWatch.org lays out its ideas for the future of Playland. They include simple suggestions, such as drawing guests in with good ice cream and gluten-free foods, increasing revenues with VIP services and charging for leased kiosk carts by private vendors.

But there are also more complex ideas proposed by the group. It notes that Playland could save $425,000 by cutting in half the number of County police on duty at the park and hiring guards instead.

The group also criticizes Playland's current advertising methods, saying that the county spent $516,000 on old media last year and paid $304,652 in full-time sales and marketing salaries. 

"Reducing expensive and ineffective print, TV and radio advertising and investing in cost effective earned social media will help put Playland on the road to profitability," it said, suggesting that marketing staff compete for earnings based on the park's attendance rates.

PlaylandWatch.org's other suggestions include:

  • Emulating the MTA's "Arts for Transit program," by promoting live music performances at the park.
  • Reducing Playland's fireworks shows from 21 to 10, which the group says would save $50,000 annually.
  • Incorporating Playland into a "College of Westchester Hospitality & Theme Park Administration" program, which the group says would "attract bright, motivated, talented, cost-effective workers."
  • Working with Westchester high schools to "give students community service hours for assisting guests with special needs."
  • Creating "closer association with education, career training and other activities will make Playland eligible for private, and government grants."
  • Renting unneeded parking areas to the Town of Rye to alleviate the parking situation at Rye Town Park while increasing Playland's income.
  • Investing in energy-efficient lighting, pumps and ride brakes to reduce Playland's utilities, which the group says currently account for 7 percent of the park's budget.
al February 07, 2011 at 03:38 PM
We all know this is the location for a few scenes in Tom Hanks " Big" but why was the location covered up and disguised be another. especially as historic as the park is?
Patrice E. Athanasidy February 07, 2011 at 10:03 PM
I hope they find a way to make Rye profitable and keep it running. My children are the fourth generation in my family to enjoy it. Each generation has many wonderful memories to share.
Paul Charette February 09, 2011 at 01:52 AM
Here's a great idea: go with the Playlandwatch plan which involves no County expenditure, no major construction. Give the ideas a go for two years and watch the financial burden fade away. If it doesn't, then you can consider other more radical ideas. The "wealthier" organization is a good second choice plan but they want to only retain the 7 historic rides - not the amusement park as such. As has always been the case, the rich want parks while the regular folks want fun.

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