Now, now, Sustainable is not in the clear just yet. http://newyork.newsday.com/westchester/jenkins-vows-lawsuit-to-stop-astorino-s-plan-for-playland-1.5098263http://westfaironline.com/53931/astorino-reaches-agreement-with-sustainable-playland/
Everything positive is below the red line.
Playland’s days as a county-run fun park could be ending.
County Executive Robert P. Astorino announced that he has reached a 10-year agreement with Sustainable Playland Inc. (SPI) to run Rye Playland and take it off the county’s hands.
Several key county legislators remain skeptical.
SPI will take over the county-run park on Oct. 1, assuming all approvals are met, including from the county’s Board of Acquisition and Contract. SPI plans to invest $34 million in the park.
“Not only will the Dragon Coaster and the other historic rides be preserved, but the attractions will be expanded to make the park a destination for families year round,” Astorino said in a statement. “We have the vision and expertise in place for Playland to thrive for generations to come.”
Under the agreement, SPI will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of both the amusement area and the surrounding 100 acres of parkland. Proceeds to pay the county, maintain the grounds and make improvements will come from equity investments from the operators, fees SPI charges its operators, revenues generated by the attractions run by the operators, and other revenue such as parking and sponsorships.
“The SPI plan is designed to preserve, restore and enhance the historic character and qualities of Playland, including the historic amusement rides, the classic buildings and the landscape,” Kim Morque, president of SPI, said in a statement.Democratic legislators said they were not ready to support the agreement, saying they have not read it and questioning whether it
violates the county charter. According to an opinion by County Attorney Robert Meehan, the legislators must approve any major changes made to the park.
“The Astorino administration said its goal was to stop losing money at Playland, but Sustainable is not the way,” said Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-Katonah). “From what we have seen and heard during numerous committee meetings held on the subject, Sustainable is the least competitive financially. But most importantly, this agreement essentially privatizes county parkland.”
Harckham said the other three finalists – Central Amusements International, Legoland, and Standard Amusements L.L.C. – are capitalized and ready to invest in Playland. He would like the administration to work with the board on this process.
“Let’s work successfully and collaborate,” Harckham said. “Let’s finish our review. Let’s work collaboratively to come up with the best proposal for residents and taxpayers. We have a lot of questions about Sustainable Playland.”
While the administration wants this done as soon as possible, Harckham said it’s simply not fair to rush.
“The administration has taken over two years,” Harckham said. “To put gauntlets and deadlines on the board is unfair to the process. We need to do due deliberations. We are almost complete with our analysis. We have to make sure we come up with the best product for Westchester.”
Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), chairwoman of the government operations committee, said she doesn’t think SPI’s plan is financially secure.
“They are a not-for-profit shell corporation that’s subleasing to vendors,” Borgia said. “Westchester does not get its money until those areas are profitable. It’s very risky financially.”
Borgia also criticized SPI’s plans to reduce the size of the parking lot and amusement park.
“Their plan just doesn’t make sense,” Borgia said. “There are more financially viable options on the table. This is too important for political jockeying.”
Geoff Thompson, a spokesman for SPI, said that Astorino’s announcement was a major step forward for the project.
“We feel our plan is the right and smart approach that addresses the issues that confront Playland,” Thompson said. “We have a year-round plan that’s balanced.”
Thompson said their plans will make the park accessible by being open year-round and allowing the community free access.
“This can be profitable,” Thompson said. “It will help taxpayers by lowering the debt.”
Donna Greene, a spokeswoman for Astorino, said the county executive stands by his selection of SPI.
“We had a committee of experts evaluate this,” Greene said. “The county executive wouldn’t recommend it if he didn’t think it was a good plan.”