The Westchester County lawmakers
who have not decided if they believe Sustainable Playland Inc.’s plan is the
best for the county met with the group that would be running the amusement
portion of the park under SPI’s proposal, the Board of Legislators announced in
a press release today.
The Board members met with Central Amusements International (CAI) executives at Coney Island’s Luna Park, which CAI runs, to learn more about their business. County Executive Rob Astorino announced in July that CAI would be in charge of SPI’s “amusement zone” portion of Playland under the proposed management agreement.
BOL Government Operations Committee Chair Catherine Borgia, one of the legislators still questioning SPI’s proposal, said the board still needs to scrutinize the numbers to make sure the plan would be best for tax-payers.
The press release noted that the board members learned that CAI has a lease with New York City to run Luna Park, and not a “management agreement,” like what is proposed for SPI and Playland. “Bringing Central Amusements on board raises question about the value of Sustainable Playalnd’s Invovlement,” BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins said. Jenkins filed a legal challenge to Astorino’s management agreement with SPI in New York Supreme Court in May, stating Astorino did not have the power to create such a contract.
The group of unconvinced board members has ordered a financial audit of the four finalist’s proposal revitalization plans for Playland, which will be released this week, according to the BOL press release.
The SPI management agreement is in the hands of the BOL. They submitted a “Playland Improvement Plan” to Astorino. Once he approves it, the Government Operations Committee will receive it and can review it for however long they feel is necessary before they put it to the entire board for a vote, Jenkins said. Of the 17 members of the BOL, 12 must vote in favor of the PIP by Dec. 31, 2013 or SPI can withdraw from the agreement, Jenkins said.
Read the BOL’s full press release on their visit to Luna Park below.
Press Release from the Board of Legislators, Sept. 3, 2013
White Plains, NY – As part of their information gathering and due diligence in regard to their review of the Playland revitalization proposals, several members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) met with executives from Central Amusements International (CAI) at Coney Island’s Luna Park recently to learn more about the firm’s amusement business.
In July, County Executive Rob Astorino announced that CAI, one of the finalists in the Playland revitalization process, would be in charge of the Amusement Zone under the auspices of the so-called “management agreement” with Sustainable Playland, Inc. (SPI), a not-for-profit organization founded by several Rye residents to run Playland. CAI works with two 85-year old family firms based in Italy, Zamperla, Inc. and Antonio Zamperla S.p.A., and presently operates Victorian Gardens at Wollman Rink in Central Park and Leolandia in Italy, as well as Luna Park.
The BOL Government Operations Committee, chaired by Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) is still reviewing the four finalists wanting to revitalize Playland, and a financial audit of the finalists is forthcoming this week.
“The Playland proposals deserve the utmost scrutiny from the Board of Legislators before one is officially sanctioned and approved,” said Borgia. “The County’s parks, including Playland, are dynamic resources that represent generations of taxpayer investments. They have provided decades of enjoyment for residents, and their future potential is immense. Public-private partnerships can offer mutual benefits to the parties involved, but the numbers have to be carefully scrutinized to make sure there is no risk to our taxpayers.”
The BOL members learned that CAI has a ten-year lease with the City of New York to run Luna Park at Coney Island—there is no so-called “management agreement” between Mayor Michael Bloomberg and CAI. Also, CAI has a licensing agreement with the City of New York to run the famous Cyclone rollercoaster, which is owned by the City.
“Central Amusements’ deal at Coney Island is similar to what presently exists at Playland, with New York City owning the amusements and adopting agreements with all of the vendors and concession owners,” said BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers), who continued to note that all so-called “agreements” and contracts at the County’s 280-acre amusement park and recreation facility remain contingent on court decisions and the BOL’s continuing review of the four revitalization proposals.
BOL Chairman Jenkins filed a legal challenge to Astorino’s “management agreement” with SPI in New York Supreme Court on May 23, 2013 seeking to annul the County’s Board of Acquisition and Contract (A&C) vote in April 2013 to approve the ten-year “agreement” between the County and SPI, as Astorino and County Budget Director Lawrence Soule’s A&C votes were “in excess” of their jurisdictional duties and contrary to the laws specified in the County Charter.
Jenkins also reiterated that “bringing Central Amusements on board raises questions about the value of Sustainable Playland’s involvement.”