Solving the puzzle of parking at the new Playland — after it’s taken over by Sustainable Playland and a new field house is built in part of the current parking lot — will be key to gaining approvals and running a successful park.
That point was emphasized Tuesday in a meeting of the parks committee of the Westchester Board of Legislators, which is in the middle of an intensive review of the plans by Sustainable Playland to remake the park as more of a yearround attraction.
Legislator Michael Kaplowitz, D-Somers, the chairman of the board, warned Sustainable Playland officials that they needed to come up with a parking plan that guarantees patrons will be able to get into the park or risk losing the support of the majority of the board.
“You’re not going to get nine votes,” he said. “I’m not sure you’re getting many more than X votes if you don’t put in a parking plan either on site or go to off site and get shuttle buses. Whatever it takes.”
Kaplowitz’s comments followed some back and forth over Sustainable’s attendance goals after its president, Kim Morque, said they don’t want more than the 700,000 to 800,000 visitors called for in their plans.
“Rye has concerns about parking, quite frankly, and traffic,” Morque said. “The million or million and a half visitors would be a terrible impact on Rye.”
That comment concerned Legislator MaryJane Shimsky, D-Hastings-on-Hudson, who said later that it appeared Sustainable’s business model was intentionally limiting the success of the amusement park.
“How do you bring in someone who says they want the business you want them to take over to succeed but only succeed so much,” she said. “It’s very troubling.”
Shimsky asked Sustainable to run the numbers on the parking for a million visitors a year.
Because the field house is being built in the parking lot, Sustainable’s plans will result in a net loss of 517 parking spaces from the 3,200 currently on site in all the different lots, including those only used on the busiest days.
Fourth of July, the park’s busiest day, brought in more than 18,000 people in 2010. With the reduction in parking the capacity will be closer to 14,500.
With a 25 percent increase in attendance, Fourth of July will still be the only day when the parking lots reach capacity, Sustainable’s consultants said. With a 50 percent increase, capacity will be reached four days a year and with 75 percent it would be five days a year. Sustainable plans to provide offsite parking with shuttles and maybe valet parking on site to handle the cars.
Overall, Sustainable’s goal is to increase attendance while spreading it out across the year to minimize peak days.
The parking study is available at www.sustainableplayland.org.
Click here for the latest on the Playland review, namely the dispute between Rye and the county over who has authority to approve Sustainable’s plans.