Thu May 16, 2013 2:20 pm
Thu May 16, 2013 3:38 pm
Thu May 16, 2013 5:02 pm
Thu May 16, 2013 5:16 pm
Thu May 16, 2013 5:49 pm
Thu May 16, 2013 6:02 pm
Sun May 19, 2013 5:10 am
But hasn't the park been doing poorly for many years which is why it's in the situation it's in now? It would seem to me that if the community really supported the park it wouldn't be in this position, right?
Sun May 19, 2013 4:27 pm
Sun May 26, 2013 6:26 pm
The chairman of the Westchester Board of Legislators is asking a court to void an agreement between the county and Sustainable Playland, a nonprofit chosen by the county executive to take over Playland Amusement Park in Rye, adding more uncertainty to the already confused process of reinventing the historic park.
Legislator Ken Jenkins, D-Yonkers, filed a lawsuit challenging the county’s approval of an “asset-management” agreement, arguing that County Executive Rob Astorino exceeded his authority in turning over the park to the group for 10 years without the approval of the Board of Legislators.
“This is not about Chairman Jenkins finding fault with Sustainable Playland’s proposal,” said Tom Staudter, a spokesman for the board’s Democratic majority. “This is about the process necessary for moving forward with the reinvention of Playland in accordance with the county charter.”
Ned McCormack, a spokesman for Astorino, said the lawsuit “appears to be nothing more than obstruction on the part of Ken Jenkins.”
“It’s unfortunate that this is a distraction, but we will continue to move forward,” he said.
Astorino asked in 2010 for proposals to reinvent Playland, a national historic landmark, and make it financially independent of the county. He announced the choice of Sustainable Playland in the fall and, in April, said he had finished negotiating the 10-year asset management agreement.
After the agreement is executed in the next few weeks, Sustainable is supposed to submit an improvement plan for approval by the Board of Legislators. The board also is independently reviewing other proposals for the future of the park, and it’s not clear how the lawsuit will affect the process.
The lawsuit argues the Board of Legislators has authority over Playland and must approve leases longer than five years. Astorino said because the agreement was not a lease, it only had to be approved by the county’s Board of Acquisition and Contract, which he controls. But Staudter said the agreement has all the elements of a lease and confers rights beyond that of a license or management agreement.
McCormack disagreed. “This is not some semantic game here,” he said. “A lease has characteristics that are very different from an asset management agreement.”
Asked to weigh in on what approvals are required, County Attorney Robert Meehan said in February that the board didn’t have to approve the agreement but did have to approve any major construction at the park.
Sustainable Playland wants to bring in private operators to redevelop and run sections of the park, including a new aqua and beach zone, a field house and outdoor fields, a downsized amusement area and a great lawn and other public plazas and areas. The president of the board of Sustainable Playland, Kim Morque, said he hadn’t heard of the lawsuit and couldn’t comment.
The board challenged the Astorino administration in several lawsuits last year over issues including child-care subsidies, the membership of the county contracts board and the administration’s cancellation of a bus line. The Playland lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in White Plains, asks for a court date of June 24.
Wed Jul 24, 2013 4:33 pm
Sustainable Playland, the nonprofit entity picked by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s administration to take over the management of Playland Amusement Park, has backed off plans to remove nearly one-third of the rides.
The group, which signed an “asset management” agreement with Astorino in a ceremony Tuesday at the park, was chosen in the fall to reinvigorate the national historic landmark and turn it into a year-round destination with new sports facilities, a new water area and new public spaces. Now Sustainable Playland officials propose a smaller great lawn — one of its signature improvements — and removing or relocating only a few rides.
The proposal to remove a large part of the amusement park had sparked opposition from the public and many county legislators.
The new vision for the park was a sidelight to the event of the day, which was the signing of a lease with Westchester Children’s Museum and a 10-year management agreement with Sustainable Playland. The Children’s Museum now can take over the north bathhouse at the park and begin work toward an opening day within 24 months. But Sustainable still needs more approvals for its proposed changes to the park and faces a challenge in state court by Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins, who is challenging Astorino’s decision to pick Sustainable without board approval.
But Astorino emphasized partnership at Tuesday’s ceremonies.
“Sustainable Playland had the best vision for what a family park in the 21st century should look like,” he told a crowd of guests and media on the boardwalk.
Astorino also said Tuesday that Mega Funworks has been replaced as operator of the amusement area by Central Amusement International, which runs Luna Park at Coney Island and is one of the 12 original groups to make a proposal for Playland. Sustainable plans to have private operators investing in and running different zones at the park while it acts as the overall manager.
Valerio Ferrari, president of Zamperla, the company behind Central Amusement, said its vision is similar to its original proposal, though it is “shifting a little bit, is shrinking a little bit.”
If Sustainable goes ahead as planned, the changes to the park will be made over several years, starting with the fountain plaza and the promenade. New playing fields and a fieldhouse also are planned, along with a revamped Ice Casino and a new water zone. Sustainable and its partners are expected to invest $34 million into the park.
The Playland Plunge, a large log ride, eventually will be removed to open up the shoreline, said Geoffrey Thompson, a spokesman for Sustainable Playland, along with a few smaller rides and small buildings. But the Log Flume will stay. The changes were made in response to the large amount of concern expressed about shrinking the amusement park, Thompson said.
“We’ll be able to create the great lawn, and it’s not maybe going to be quite as big as conceptualized,” he said.
Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett said after the signing that the administration hopes to persuade Jenkins to withdraw his lawsuit, saying, “It’s time to join forces and move this vision forward.”
But Jenkins said the County Charter requires the management deal to be submitted to the board for approval.
“I said, ‘Let’s just follow the procedure and there wouldn’t be any issues,’ ” he said.
Jenkins said the board also still has questions about Sustainable Playland’s plans. The board may not approve the fieldhouse, he said, because of the impact on parking. And the fundamental question remains whether, with additional investment, the county could run the park without turning over some of the revenue to private operators.
“Do we need this group of individuals to do that?” he asked. “If we invested in our own employees, could they do that? Which is the best way for taxpayers?”
Sustainable Playland has 30 days to submit its improvement plan to the administration, then it will go to the Board of Legislators. If the board doesn’t approve the plan by Jan. 1, Sustainable can pull out of the deal.
“The faster we can get this done, the better it is for the taxpayers of the county,” Astorino said.