Standard Files for Bankruptcy, Sues
County Over Playland Termination
By Tom McDermott
The long Playland Amusement Park tale has more ups and downs, twists and turns than its own Dragon Coaster. A month ago, County Executive George Latimer notified Standard Amusements that the County was terminating its contract with Standard to operate Playland, which was set to begin this fall, citing Standard’s failure to meet its investment responsibilities at the park. Latimer stated that the County will continue running the park through at least 2019. Last week, Standard filed for bankruptcy and then sued the County.
In its filing, Standard listed the County contract as its major asset, declaring a million dollars in liabilities versus a half-million in assets. Standard CEO Nick Singer plans to use the bankruptcy to force the County to honor the contract. According to Singer, they have not breached the contract, have already spent close to $10 million on preparatory engineering and design studies, and offered to up their initial investment to $50 million from the agreed-upon $27 million.
The court records show that Standard has accrued total debt of over $700,000.
Since taking office in 2018, Latimer, along with several members of the Board of Legislators, has made no bones about his unhappiness with the Playland agreement his predecessor amended in December 2017.
It has been nearly ten years since the previous County Executive Rob Astorino set in motion a process by which the County could forge a private-public agreement to ensure improvements to the 280-acre park while reducing or eliminating annual operating deficits in the County’s budget. Ultimately, Standard emerged as that partner.
Latimer has expressed confidence in his administration’s ability to raise attendance at Playland through marketing and some improvements. The larger concern is how the County, with or without a private partner, can raise the $150 million it says is needed to repair and restore the 1928 amusement park.