The Problem with Playland: Revitalizing and Reinventing Rye Playland
Will Sustainable Playland live up to its name?
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Of the four proposals, “there are pros and cons to each,” Borgia says. “Sustainable is not as economically secure as other plans. It depends on the success of all the different components for overall success. Additionally, there is the concern that, since they plan on significantly reducing the size of the amusement park area, there won’t be as much access, or perhaps they’ll even get rid of it altogether with time. We don’t have an answer yet. We recognize that we have to change things, but, at the same time, keep what’s good about Playland.”
The legislators say they wanted more input from the community. “We want to hear from residents so we can get a feeling of what they want, since the park essentially belongs to them,” says Myers, who was one of the three legislators on the original citizens advisory panel. “We, the legislators, are playing catch-up right now, which is unfair to us. We want to all be of the same mindset going forward.”
The county executive, she says, “can make the decision as to which proposal he chooses, but anything upwards of a 10-year deal involves the board of legislators.” SPI is requesting a 30-year proposal. Jenkins adds, “The board of legislators is legally responsible for all agreements regarding Playland. Take away the $3.6 million of debt service last year, though, and Playland was budgeted to make $1.6 million. All of the proposals deserve the public scrutiny of the board of legislators.”
The legislators’ opinion even has legal support from County Attorney Robert Meehan. In February, Meehan issued a legal opinion that said any major changes to the park are subject to the approval of the legislators.
Until the two branches of government can work together, the issue with Playland will remain as is—in a state of limbo. If SPI is the chosen proposal and the contract is signed, any significant changes won’t go into effect until the 2014 season. Playland will operate as is for the coming season.
What makes things even more interesting is that this is an election year. Astorino hopes that the park won’t become a hot-button issue. “It is time to take the politics out of Playland,” he says, “and I hope that it doesn’t get dragged into the election.” This will only further delay the process of finding a solution, which has already been in the works for two and a half years.
Throughout the process, it has become more than abundantly clear that the problem with Playland is more than just Playland itself. Myers puts it best: “Playland is clearly a beloved asset to the County. This whole process shows how passionate people are about the park for there to be so many varying opinions about what to do to make it better.”
A decision needs to be made or the County and its hard-working taxpayers will continue to be drained financially and emotionally. The one thing all parties involved agree upon is how much they all love P Playland and what it represents for the people of Westchester. It appears hopeful that, moving forward, the park can retain its historic and nostalgic charm with the added bonus of making a profit, as the government undoubtedly has many more important issues requiring its attention.
Cat Zambito is a freelance writer for Westchester Magazine and its affiliates. She also works as a voice-over artist and on-camera talent, having worked on hundreds of tv and radio commercials.