The County Executive has reviewed Sustainable Playland Inc.’s (SPI) improvement plan for the 85-year-old amusement park.
By Robin Jovanovich
The County Executive has reviewed Sustainable Playland Inc.’s (SPI) improvement plan for the 85-year-old amusement park. The Board of Legislators is in the process of its review. At the October 9 City Council meeting, SPI President Kim Morque and Board member Bruce Macleod presented highlights of the 80-page plan to the City Council for their review and recommendations.
While there was nothing surprising in the overall plan, especially to anyone who has followed the nearly four-year evolution of the County Executive’s intent to reinvent the historic park, a number of residents were taken aback when they realized that the “Field Zone” includes an indoor 95,000 square-foot field house.
Most residents know that soon after taking office in 2010, County Executive Rob Astorino appointed a committee to oversee the eventual issuance of an RFP (Request for Proposals) for Playland. The landmarked amusement park has been losing millions of dollars every year for decades and needs major investment in its infrastructure. Last October, SPI was selected by the committee to take over management of the park once a lengthy review of its plan was complete.
For several months, the plan has been under review, and if all goes according to plan, the transfer of management is expected to begin by the end of 2013, or early January 2014 at the latest.
Not all County legislators are behind the plan, nor are all residents, but the majority are and the plan is moving steadily forward through the required official channels.
SPI’s plan creates six zones within the park: Amusement, Aqua/Beach, Field, Fountain Plaza, Great Lawn, and Shore. The historic attractions will be renovated and updated, but many of the no-longer-popular rides will be removed over time and replaced with more exciting ones by operator Central Amusement International. An interactive water playground is the star attraction of the Aqua/Beach Zone. Playland Sports will operate the Field Zone, with the goal of offering participants of all ages and skill levels the chance to participate in any number of sports on new fields and in a climate-controlled facility, the Field House. The plan offers greater access to the Edith Read Wildlife Sanctuary and Long Island Sound.
The Field House in question would be lower in height than the old buildings in the parking lot that are slated to be demolished but considerably more square feet. Residents who live in neighborhoods close to the parking lot are concerned about the impact of such a facility on home values from Sanford Street to Wainwright. They also expressed a deep concern about overflow parking.
Lively public discussion ensued at the October 23 City Council meeting, with many residents voicing concerns and the Council voicing their own questions about the plan.