At Long Last, Playland Agreement Signed
By Robin Jovanovich
After a hard-fought battle that ended up in the courts and incurred enormous legal expense, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, the week before Christmas, announced that the County and Standard Amusements have come to terms on a new management agreement, and that he will turn over the keys to Standard on January 1, 2022.
The agreement may yet require state legislation to deal with parkland alienation statutes, Latimer explained in a phone interview this week. If not, the agreement will simply need to be voted on by the County Board of Legislators and the Board of Acquisition and Contract.
The deal not only includes an increase in commitment from Standard — $35 million for new rides, games, and park improvements “to enhance the guest experience” — but an improved revenue share for the County. The management fee increases 33 percent, starting in the first season. Under the 30-year agreement, the County will retain oversight.
Whether the country’s oldest amusement park will open in 2021 is up to Governor Cuomo, Latimer said. “We couldn’t open last year because of the pandemic, but we’ll be prepared to open in mid-May if it is safe to do so.”
For Nicholas Singer, founder and principal of Standard Amusements, who signed an agreement in 2015 with Latimer’s predecessor, Rob Astorino, to take over the operation of the park, the wait has been a long and turbulent one. To salvage a deal with the County after Latimer terminated their public/private agreement in May 2019, Standard sued the County in bankruptcy court.
Singer, who shares Latimer’s affection for the historic park, said he is thrilled with the agreement. “We look forward to working closely with the County in the coming years to ensure that this iconic park thrives and continues to benefit residents and visitors.”
A Standard spokesman informed the paper that they would share details of their master plan in the coming weeks.