How the County Board of Legislators will vote this month on the latest plan to upgrade Playland through a proposed $25 million deal with Standard Amusements is not known.
By Tom McDermott
How the County Board of Legislators will vote this month on the latest plan to upgrade Playland through a proposed $25 million deal with Standard Amusements is not known. But, at a Rye City Hall public meeting June 2 one thing was clear: MaryJane Shimsky, Chair of the Labor, Parks, Planning and Housing Committee, runs a tight meeting. Every citizen who wanted to speak had their chance, in exactly 56 minutes.
County Executive Rob Astorino announced the new deal in April. Standard Amusements, led by Nicholas Singer, would pay $2,250,000 up front and $22,750,000 over five years. They would also make annual $300,000 payments that escalate 2 percent per year. In return, the County eventually receives 7.75 percent of profits after the initial investment is recouped.
Shimsky and Kaplowitz, were joined by Rye’s Legislator, Catherine Parker, who was instrumental in arranging the local meeting, Michael Smith, and Majority Leader Catherine Borgia. They borrowed the City Council chamber, where the public was able to directly address legislators about their concerns and put forth ideas.
In his welcoming remarks, Mayor Joe Sack asserted that any plan for Playland put forth by the County would still need go through Rye’s own planning process. Then, Legislator Shimsky began by stating that “Our role is to sit here and listen,” promising to work any new concerns and ideas into other feedback the committee had already received.
A number of speakers Tuesday night, including Steve Vasco, Chairman of Rye’s Playland Advisory Committee, who was speaking for himself, and Ken Ball, urged the BOL to adopt Standard Amusements as its Playland partner. Said resident Ball, “Let’s move ahead and be good neighbors.”
On the other hand, Deirdre Curran, who was one of those who led the charge against SPI, urged the committee to put off their vote. She said they did not have enough time to make an informed decision, especially since one member, Peter Harckham, had just resigned. She also felt that the County has plenty of money to invest in Playland, money that currently goes to other parks. She thinks a $25 million commitment from Standard is not nearly enough.
Speakers gave the committee a number of things to think about as they approach their vote, among them:
• Will Standard’s annual rent and fees go to a general fund or directly back to Playland?
• Who will be the custodian of the National Register of Historical Places buildings?
• The County should consider adding a golf driving range.
• How can the park’s underlying and valuable cultural heritage be maximized?
• Will a condition survey be conducted for all buildings?
• Will workers remain County employees?
In closing remarks, Chairman Kaplowitz stated that he intended to name a new committee member prior to the June 10 vote.
Precisely at 7:56 the gavel came down, and everyone went home early.