County and SPI Reach Agreement; But BOL Support Still in Question

It was standing-room-only at yesterday’s press conference at which County Executive Rob Astorino announced that the County and Sustainable Playland Inc. (SPI) have reached a ten-year agreement.

Published April 5, 2013 4:31 PM
2 min read

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It was standing-room-only at yesterday’s press conference at which County Executive Rob Astorino announced that the County and Sustainable Playland Inc. (SPI) have reached a ten-year agreement.

 

By Robin Jovanovich

 

It was standing-room-only at yesterday’s press conference at which County Executive Rob Astorino announced that the County and Sustainable Playland Inc. (SPI) have reached a ten-year agreement. 

 

Under this “asset management agreement,” SPI will assume responsibility to operate and maintain the amusement park and the surrounding parkland. The target date for the transition is October 1.

 

Mr. Astorino explained that an asset agreement satisfied the needs of all parties. “It protects taxpayers, vendors, the County, and SPI.” Under the agreement, the County does not give up ownership of the property.

 

If all goes according to plan, the Board of Acquisition and Contract will approve the agreement by mid-April. At that point, SPI will have a month to send a plan of material improvements it intends to make in the park. Once approved by the County Executive, it goes to the Board of Legislators for their approval.

 

“It’s important that this agreement doesn’t get bogged down in political paralysis,” stressed Mr. Astorino. “We’re all here to save Playland.”

 

The County Executive added that if the BOL does not approve the plan in a timely manner that SPI has the right to terminate the agreement. That drop-dead date is January 1.

 

Yesterday afternoon, the Democratic Westchester Legislators sent out their own press release. Their message was clear: several members are not yet ready to support the agreement. Furthermore, they are still reviewing the four top proposals from the RFP process.

 

There is an election this fall, and the Playland debate continues to be part of the campaign conversation.

 

Mr. Astorino led the initiative for a new vision for Playland when he was elected in 2009. A 19-member committee reviewed a dozen proposals and, in October, SPI was their final selection.

 

At yesterday’s press conference, Mr. Astorino assured residents that the deal, which is a legally binding document, has been fully vetted. “We have respected all parties and, according to our charter, this is the avenue in which to do it.”

 

The County Executive went on to point out that the County is not in a position to put millions of dollars into Playland, and has proven — over many administrations — that it can’t and shouldn’t run an amusement park.

 

“SPI had the best vision of all the applicants — turning what is currently a three-month park into a year-round destination. They understood that Playland is a park, with natural beauty, and not just a real estate transaction,” said Mr. Astorino. “SPI also offers the best financial package and opportunity to grow.”

 

Under the asset management agreement, SPI will give the County a $4,000,000 base payment and $1.2 million annually. The County will use the money to retire the $35 million in debt for the park.

 

Whatever happens in the coming weeks, Playland will open for the season May 11.

 

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