Sustainable Playland Inc. submitted its Playland Improvement Plan to the County Board of Legislators last fall. Last week, the BOL referred the plan to different committees.
By Robin Jovanovich
Sustainable Playland Inc. submitted its Playland Improvement Plan to the County Board of Legislators last fall. The non-profit group selected to manage and revitalize the Park submitted the plan — without any changes — to the new legislative session three weeks ago. Last week, the BOL referred the plan to different committees.
Kim Morque, SPI President, gave us a status report. “We’re in conversations with public officials at every level. We’ve listened to residents. We’re trying to find the right balance.”
The BOL, according to Morque, is not comfortable with the ride operator and the proposed reduction of rides. “In response to their concerns about parking at the Field House, we have redone the site plan.”
Meanwhile, Rye Mayor Joe Sack has requested a public meeting with SPI representatives at City Hall, February 25 at 7:30 p.m. Morque said several of their sports representatives would be at the meeting, along with Geoff Thompson, who handles public relations for SPI. According to the County Executive’s office, the Playland Improvement Plan will not require approval from Rye’s land-use boards and commissions. Conversely, City Councilwoman Laura Brett, who serves on Rye’s Planning Commission, said it is the city’s position “that changes at Playland are subject to the city’s land-use regulations.”
“We need people to take ownership of the park,” Morque emphasized. “The plan has to evolve. This is a beautiful landscape. We’re removing an asphalt parking lot and putting in fields.”
Morque acknowledged that a number of residents have strong concerns about the size of the Field House and its impact on adjacent Rye neighborhoods. He is sensitive to those concerns but satisfied with the “extensive” traffic and lighting study done by Playland Sports.
“We responded to a plan to restore the park, make it financially sustainable, add amenities, and broaden its use to year-round,” he continued.
“The process has not been straightforward, but all along SPI has been respectful of the County and both the legislative and executive branches.” He added, “I believe this is the right direction for the park; we just need to get on a new forward track.”
SPI is excited about partnering with the Westchester Children’s Museum, which they describe as “integral to the overall plan.” As long as the approval process moves smoothly, The Ice Casino is set to reopen this spring. “Our goal is for the Casino to keep its prior and historic use.” He reported that the amusement park operator would like to start the season a little earlier and stay open into the fall. And while there are no plans to turn a part of the park into Restaurant Row, the operators hope to make it more of a dining destination.
Thompson, who was at the last BOL meeting, said he was heartened to hear from County residents who are in favor of SPI’s plan. “Several legislators came up to me afterwards and said those voices of support were a breath of fresh air!” (To date, it’s been mostly opponents of the plan who’ve shown up at public meetings.)
“The new plan for Playland will play out over many years,” said Morque.