Some Not Happy with Astorino's New Plans for Playland

The Westchester County Association and Westchester Legislator Ken Jenkins spoke of their disappointment with Playland's new direction.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.
Following his announcement of new measures to save Playland, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino drew some criticism Friday from at least two entities.

In separate statements, the Westchester County Association and Westchester Legislator Ken Jenkins both spoke of their disappointment with the plans. Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz voiced only cautious support of the new direction and vowed to stay diligent in its oversight role.

Among Astorino's plans are a new full review of the park's operations, and a new contract with a group to run the ice rink at the facility.

Below is the full statement from Marissa Brett, president of the Westchester County Association:

“We are deeply disappointed that after three years of discussions and planning, Westchester County and Sustainable Playland, Inc., have abandoned their agreement to redevelop Rye Playland. While no one party is to be blamed for letting the process flounder, certainly the process is at fault.

“Whether one agrees or not with Sustainable Playland’s proposed plans, it is apparent that the group invested considerable thought, time, effort, and money to rescue and resuscitate a money-losing county venture. Unfortunately, they had to work with multiple government entities, some with conflicting visions for the property, in developing their plans. In the end, Sustainable Playland ran out of patience and money for this project.


“Our concern is that this decision may jeopardize future projects between the private sector and the County. We have supported the use of Public-Private Partnerships to improve our County’s infrastructure and to monetize government assets. We need to encourage, and not discourage, more projects between the public and private sectors, such as North 60 at Grasslands in Valhalla, where Fareri Associates has a plan to develop 60 acres of County property for use by biotech companies, a key growth area for Westchester.


“Westchester needs a clear roadmap for developers to follow so there is less risk that important projects lose momentum and die. The Westchester County Association is committed to working with business and government to streamline the process, and we already are meeting with municipal leaders and sharing ideas. It is essential to upgrade our approach to development, and prevent others from spending millions of dollars that lead to nowhere.”

The Westchester County Association 
is the preeminent business leadership organization serving Westchester County and the region. The Association is committed to economic vitality, business advocacy, and providing a strong and clear voice for the interests of businesses on the local, regional, and national levels. Its key objectives are to promote positive economic development in the region, foster business development, and provide its members with access and interaction with key public and private sector individuals, agencies, and organizations. (www.westchester.org) 

Below is the full statement from Ken Jenkins:

Westchester County Legislator Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) whose legal actions were identified by Sustainable Playland as a contributing factor for their withdrawal from the BOL review process, released the following statement today in regard to County Executive Rob Astorino’s announcement that the Playland revitalization plan from Sustainable Playland, Inc. (SPI) was being withdrawn.


“County Executive Rob Astorino seems to be doubling down on a failed approach that makes pre-mature pronouncements on a 10 year contract that will require a super-majority vote of the BOL and wastes taxpayers’ money to perform an analysis that the County Executive claims to have used in making his initial selection of Sustainable Playland.


“The time is now for the BOL, as the governing authority for Westchester County, to bring together the two remaining RFP respondents, Central Amusements and Standard Amusements and develop a lease for the management of Playland’s Amusement area using the framework of the 2010 Resolution adopted by the BOL regarding Playland.  These last two remaining RFP respondents are prepared today to invest $25 million dollars into the amusement area and get things up and running in time for the 2015 Playland season. The BOL did this with the Children’s Museum with a unanimous vote then a unanimous override of County Executive Astorino’s veto.


“Friends of the Parks are well established group that supports all of Westchester and is concession vendor at Playland.  It will be interesting to see how the Astorino administration addresses the concerns of disparities that have come from organizations like the Central Park Conservancy. 


“I am hopeful my colleagues on the BOL will combine the remaining RFP respondents and develop a lease to operate the amusement area at Playland based on over 2 years of Committee hearings and public review.”

Tom Murphy June 13, 2014 at 05:02 PM
Thank God there is an association that is advocating for the interests of big business in Westchester County. Lord knows that large corporations can't catch a break in the United States of America. But seriously SPI's plan was a land grab by developers, plain and simple. It was an unworkable plan that would have slowly strangled the Amusement Park, which I believe was it's main mission from it's inception. The plan would have turned the park over to a private corporation without ever detailing what the financial benefits would be to the County taxpayers or how SPI would mitigate what would be huge environmental conflicts by building an 85,000sq. ft. building in a flood zone, while removing a large part of the parks parking. This was an ill conceived plan which deserved to wither and die on the vine. The Westchester County Association seems to think that any corporate plan must be preferable to any public use of the park. They thereby betray what is their obvious ideological oligarchical bent. But for once the 1% doesn't win, for now Playland will remain a much needed recreational oasis for working families.
Kidzbkcrusader June 14, 2014 at 06:15 AM
Well said, Tom.
smellypants June 14, 2014 at 08:49 AM
Most people in Rye would just prefer that Playland go away.. meaning converting to a conventional, low key park with green and beach space, a few rides for the little kids ( the rest can go to Coney Island), more upscale dining and retail. Raise the price of admission to make the park break even and it will also have the effect of keeping the troublemakers out.
Rye Reader June 14, 2014 at 12:45 PM
I don't know where you got that misinformation, smelly. I believe most people in Rye want to save Playland. In any case, Playland belongs to the whole county, not just to Rye. Tom, I agree completely. Clearly the business association has plans "to monetize" other public land in the county too. All Westchester voters should take note and fight the raiding of the county's treasures. What's the deal with the ice rink management? Is this going to be more "monetizing" (using public assets to put money in private pockets)? I'll bet it is.
Deirdre Curran June 14, 2014 at 04:26 PM
Yes Rye Reader. Spot on. There's no reason to outsource the Rink. It's never been any kind of money loser when run by the County from what I understand. It's also very likely illegal for Astorino (as usual) to just go ahead with a ten year contract with a Private Operator without the consent of the BOL. So, expect *that* to get challenged. Oh - and were there any bids put out on that contract? I don't recall a bidding process occurring between when this week's press release started and when it ended....this whole scheme is a grand design to keep SPI in the picture while trying to quiet the controversy until after the election. It's actually SUPER funny to me that Astorino and his peeps are so foolish they think people can't see that.


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