Expediting repair work at Playland is one issue that legislators from both political parties and two different committees have agreed is a top priority this week.
On Monday, the Budget & Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to approve $12.5 million in bonds for boardwalk and Ice Casino repairs. On Tuesday, the Government Operations Committee also unanimously approved those bonds, leaving the final decision to be made by the County Legislators, who are expected to vote on the topic at their regular Jan. 28 meeting. If the capital budget amendment is approved, the county will issue a $4,925,000 bond to finance the cost of the Ice Casino storm reconstruction and a $7,575,000 bond to finance the cost of the boardwalk reconstruction. County officials have said they expect that FEMA and insurance will most likely reimburse them for about 70 to 80 percent of the repair costs, but that they do not have time to wait for that money if they are to salvage any of the season this year.
“Everyone is in agreement, we all want to move forward with this,” said
Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), chair of the Government Operations Committee.
The votes came after a County Parks Commissioner Kathleen O’Connor, anxious to bring back two Playland mainstays, gave a brief but dismal description of the current conditions.
“The storm battered the boardwalk,” O’Connor said. “There are boards up everywhere, things popped. There are weak spots throughout.”
The northernmost part of the boardwalk is completely gone; it broke off of its foundation during the storm and floated away, she said.
The north boardwalk near the Tiki Bar is “heaved” (see photos here) and the cement steps of the Tiki Bar were moved. In addition, the rod iron fencing alongside the boardwalk is bent over and audio and lights systems are mostly gone.
The cost of the bond does include an upgraded wood for the boardwalk. O’Connor said that better wood used for replacement about 12 years ago fared better in the storm than lower quality wood used within the last two years.
The Ice Casino will cost less to repair than the boardwalk, but did not fare any better.
“As a result of the storm the Ice Casino was first hit with tremendous wind and rain. A powerful storm surge compromised the already compromised roof,” O’Connor said. “The roof is definitely not safe.”
About four to five fee of water broke open a back door, flooded the basement and submerged the operating machinery that keeps the ice cold and the boilers. Parks staff has “band aided” the boilers to keep the building safe over the last few months, O’Connor said.
“We are hoping to repair things ASAP and salvage some of the 2013 season if we can open again by September,” O’Connor said. She noted that the county worked with the various ice hockey teams who normally use the Ice Casino to find other places for ice time.
O’Connor emphasized they hope to have the boardwalk rebuilt by the second week of May, when Playland usually opens.
Everything at Playland other than the north end of the boardwalk and the Read Sanctuary was reopened for the first time since the storm last Friday, O’Connor said.