Westchester legislators start digging into Playland details

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The Westchester Board of Legislators Government Operations committee started sorting through the details of the plan to bring a private operator in to run Playland Park Tuesday as they look toward an approval vote on the plans to overhaul the park with new attractions.

Legislators asked for a much deeper level of detail from the non-profit chosen by the administration last year to take over the park, Sustainable Playland, on the financial projections and underlying assumptions, including the number of people, number of cars and dollars spent per person. They also asked for information on how the management structure will play out day to day.

“I know that those calculations exist and I want to see them,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia, the chairwoman of the committee.

Legislator Michael Kaplowitz asked for numbers for three scenarios: best case, worst case and a case built on current attendance. He also wanted to see how much money would come to the county under each scenario.

Legislator Bill Ryan also raised the issue of what capital expenses the county would still be responsible for. Kim Morque, the president of Sustainable, referred the legislators to the management agreement with the county. Sustainable will contribute to a capital fund but once that money is gone it will fall to the county, he said.

“It’s still a county asset,” Morque said. “We’re not going to backstop that.”

Parking, long one of the major concerns of legislators, was also discussed. Sustainable plans to reduce the number of spaces to allow the construction of a field house and outdoor fields. But legislators are worried the parking won’t be adequate for busy days and want to see contingency plans from Sustainable. Sustainable’s parking consultants, from John Meyer Consulting in Armonk, said they have a lot of information in their parking study, including recommendations for more efficient use of the space, but they’re refining it as new issues come up.

Parking is also an issue for Valerio Ferrari, the head of Central Amusements International, which was brought in by Sustainable Playland to run the amusement zone. Central Amusements may scale down its $25 million investment (over 20 years) in the zone compared with its earlier, independent proposal for the park because of the reduction in parking, he said Tuesday. Ferrari said he will look at how the reduced parking will affect his projections.

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  1. Playland is the only amusement park left in the country that is still owned by a municipality. It has a record of years and years of financial losses at taxpayer expense. In the past the County contracted with Marriot Corp.( a profitable hotel chain) to run Playland for 2 years. The result was still a failure to make Playland profitable. Even a large successful private corporation couldn’t turn Playland around. It is questionable how much actual benefit Westchester residents and taxpayers are getting from the park anyway when car services can be seen in Harlem and the Bronx advertising that they go to airports and Playland.

    Now we’re talking about trying the same thing again with a different vendor that no one has ever heard of, offering them a 10 yr?? contract hoping to get different results by trying the same thing over again? Are the taxpayers going to have to continue subsidize the loss so the contractor, concessionaires and vendors can continue to make their profits at the expense of the taxpayers?

    Taxpayers should be aware that the only reason that Playland is still exists is that it is a source of cash flow from many vendors and concessionaires who give campaign donations and contract gratuities to elected officials. It has also been a source of a tremendous number free tickets given out all over the County to politicos, clubhouse cronies and their families. Taxpayers-Keep an eye on how your Legislator votes on this one! This one is a dirty deal!!

  2. “It’s still a county asset,” Morque said. “We’re not going to backstop that.”

    Because Sustainable is not really “sustainable” without county taxpayer funds. This whole Astorino plan is a shell game to collect political contributions for his re-election since he can keep all the money forever and the more the better for Rob Astorino.
    This is a scam on the taxpayers of Westchester and the lock step Republicans will be shown to be hacks and liars if they dont admit that now.
    So many of the Republicans are lawyers who will not study any of the details and will fall for the BS lies being put out by (un)Sustainable Playland Inc

  3. Taxpayers are on the hook for $12M in the 2013 Budget (less than 1/25th of the tax levy) to keep open ALL of Westchester’s parks and recreation facilities, including the golf courses Astorino and his political pals on the County payroll visit weekly. Any complaints about this spending? Or just at Playland? Since when do parks have to be profitable? Or is it about turning parts of Westchester into gated playgrounds for the royally rich and politically connected? PS to Eyeonpl: Nice to see see you brazenly waving your racist flag, not!

  4. to ray of “truth”
    Playland is not just a park, it is the only amusement park left in the US which is run by a municipality. Why is no other municipality in the US still in the amusement park business?? Playland is an historically proven unsuccessful enterprise situation that contributes to local government corruption because concessionaires, vendors and contractors all need to make campaign contributions and contract gratuities and including thousands of free tickets given out to county politicos every year at taxpayer expense. It’s one thing to have a park and it is another to have an enterprise which questionably benefits resident taxpayers though it attracts many non-residents and loses millions every year at resident taxpayer expense.

    County golf courses are only profitable because they don’t have to pay property taxes on the land that was acquired years ago. They don’t have multi-million dollar rides to buy and maintain or the associated liabilities. There are plenty of concessionaires on those courses getting sweetheart deals too-the same ones-year after year.

    How could anyone even think of giving an unknown contractor a 10 yr contract?? to run Playland knowing the history of Playland?