With the management agreement between Westchester County and Sustainable Playland, Inc. (SPI) still pending, the Rye City Council passed a resolution to officially lend its support to the plan for Playland that they feel will have a positive impact on the city.
The county-owned and run Playland amusement park is located within the City of Rye, and the council feels that SPI’s plan is the right one for the future of the park. The council agreed that SPI’s plan would help to increase property values, become a boon to the local economy, protect the park’s historic significance and comply with environmental recommendations.
County Executive Rob Astorino signed a letter of intent with SPI on Oct. 11 of this year. Under the proposed 10-year management agreement, the county would receive an upfront payment of $4 million and a minimum payment of $1.2 million a year from SPI. The non-profit group would invest $34 million in capital improvement in the park, which would include sports fields and other additions. SPI plans to run the park as a “portfolio” facility, with different operators running different sections of the park.
From the moment Astorino announced the agreement, by hosting an elaborate press conference with a marching band, balloons and a ceremonious signing, democratic members of the county Board of Legislators (BOL) questioned the plan’s viability and said they would need to approve such an agreement.
Since then, the BOL Government Operations Committee (GOC) has held meetings to vet SPI and three other groups with Playland proposals. After learning of the SPI plan the same day the letter of intent was signed, democratic legislators on the GOC said they were concerned that the plan would leave the county on the hook for $2.2 million in debt service costs.
“The administration did it privately, so it is our opportunity to learn all they knew when they were in decision making process,” said the Chair of the GOC, Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining).
Borgia said the GOC plans to discuss Playland at their upcoming meetings in January and looks to have conversations with the administration on the proposals. Borgia said each potential management group presented positive opportunities for the park, but the GOC does not have any recommendations at this time.
The county administration says the GOC is meeting with groups the administration has already rejected. "The decision is made," said County Communications Director Ned McCormack. The administration is moving forward with the SPI plan, with hopes to finalize the asset management agreement by the end of January. Once the contract is drawn, the Board of Acquisitions and Contracts will need to vote on it. That board consists of Astorino, BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins and the DPW and Transporation Commissioner, Jay T. Pisco, who Astorino appointed in January, 2012.
The Rye City Council characterized the discrepancy between the administration and the opposing legislators as “internal politics,” that they hoped would not slow the process.
“I would like to see the County Executive and legislature to put whatever politics are involved aside,” said Rye city council member Laura Brett said at the Dec. 19 Rye meeting. Brett and the other city council members were adamantly in favor of SPI and their resolution indicated they hope a management agreement moves forward soon.
Read the resolution, which passed with a unanimous vote, in the PDF attached to this article.
Do you support the Sustainable Playland plan? Tell us in the comments.