A couple hundred people turned out Wednesday night to learn more about four proposals for the future of Playland and to get their questions answered.
Sustainable Playland, Standard Amusements, Central Amusements and Legoland, the four organizations being vetted by the Westchester Board of Legislators, set up booths and answered questions from the public at the session at the Westchester County Center in White Plains before making presentations and taking questions from the audience.
A large share of the audience was already committed to Sustainable Playland, a nonprofit that started in Rye that wants to bring in private operators for a smaller amusement park, a sports zone, a small water park and beach zone and to run the Ice Casino skating rinks. The group also wants to create a great lawn for park use and events. Its supporters held signs and wore stickers showing their allegiance.
Geoff Smith of White Plains said he liked Sustainable’s non-profit status and community-oriented planning.
“This consortium is the right way to go,” he said.
Though the Board of Legislators is going through a long process of analyzing and the proposals and will ultimately decide one is best for the future of the park, the administration of County Executive Rob Astorino has already chosen Sustainable Playland through its vetting process and is negotiating a management agreement with the organization. It’s still not clear how the conflict over the authority to plan the park’s future will be resolved.
While Sustainable Playland plans to de-emphasize the amusement park while keeping its historic elements, Standard Amusements and Central Amusements plan major investments into the amusement area.
“Our plan is, we like to say, keeping it Playland,” and involves no bulldozers, said Joe Montalto, a consultant with Central Amusements.
The company wants to add 22 new rides in the first five years and more thereafter with the idea to restore Playland to what it once was, he said.
Standard Amusements similarly wants to invest in the amusement area.
“We don’t think anything’s wrong with Playland, the whole park,” said Nicholas Singer, the co-founder of Standard General, the money behind Standard Amusements.
But Devisha Bryan of Mount Vernon, who has worked at Playland for four seasons, said she is leaning toward the proposal to build a Legoland there because of the emphasis on making it a destination for younger children. And the Legoland group, like the other hopefuls, has said it will keep local employees on, she said. The Legoland plan, however, has less support from lawmakers because it proposes more drastic changes to the park than the others.
“I feel like we’ve been doing this for years,” said Bryan, 20, “Opening Playland and not making any profit.”
Photo: Officials with Sustainable Playland and its partners presented their plans to the public at an information session Wednesday night at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. Leah Rae/The Journal News