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Rye Playland Discussion Thread

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Someone please explain to me why people are freaking out over this "sustainable" idea? They said they were going to keep the classic roller coasters, attractions, and rides, and expand the park to give it the ability to open year round.


I mean, isn't this better than something like Alabama Adventure closing a their roller coasters and focusing on a water park? Or Kentucky Kingdom flat out closing?


I've only been to Playland a couple of times and all I really thought was "memorable" was the woodie, the derby racer and one of the themed boat rides. If the world lost a Volare, would it really be that big of a deal?


I guess I'm not seeing why this is a bad idea.

Edited by robbalvey
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^True. Losing part of a park is better than a whole park. But losing anything is hard to swallow, especially when other bidders promised to add and expand.


Also, besides the rides Robb mentioned, the park still had dark rides (which have a loyal following), a Mangels Whip that is run at the originally intended settings and better than average bumper cars.

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Well, the park is a historical landmark. It's beautiful. The park hasn't changed in 85 years other than new rides. My favorite part about Playland, is that it has its own atmosphere. There are no teen couples making out in the queue or anywhere. 1 in 10 people has their phone out, instead of 8 out of 10 at a Six Flags. Playland is where you bring your friends, and don't care about anything else in the world except for right now. No other park in the area can match that. Sustainable wants to come in and destroy that charm. They want to be a crappy amusement park with 5 rides, and a great community center. I live an hour away, so I don't care at all about the latter.


Also, on opening day I noticed, sadly, the Whip was running slower than last year. I went on twice to confirm.

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But hasn't the park been doing poorly for many years which is why it's in the situation it's in now? It would seem to me that if the community really supported the park it wouldn't be in this position, right?


Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm just trying to understand this whole thing. Last time I was there I felt the clientele wasn't much different than your average Six Flags park, in fact, it was not a very "nice" crowd at all that we witnessed.


Again, not knocking the park, I just have limited experience with it and trying to understand all the resistance to keeping the park alive.

Edited by robbalvey
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I'm no expert, having not even been there yet, but it's local enough that I've seen it come up often enough. From what I've seen, no, the park hasn't done that well, but at least in the minds of most of its fans, it's not because there's any reason a park in that location can't do well, it's simply bad management. Now who would possibly expect that from a park that's run by the government? >.>


Most fans are pretty sure there's no reason at all the park can't be successful if someone that actually cares about it, and has some idea what they're doing, takes over. Quite a few reputable companies seem to be of that opinion too, which is why they've made the proposals they have for it, so there has to be some merit to that.


I know it's not the biggest and best park, but if it was your local park, wouldn't you rather see it given a fair chance to live up to its potential, instead of stripped down to little more than a family entertainment center with a couple classic rides? Plus, there's the fact that, if what's been posted here and a lot of other places lately is any indication, "Sustainable" isn't really so much an attempt to keep the park alive, as it is an attempt by the wealthy in the area to raise their property values. Meanwhile, several companies think they can make it work by building it up into a better park, instead of stripping it down to nothing. Is it really any surprise that people who've grown up with the park would much rather see that happen?


It's a ways away from me, quite a bit further than Lake Compounce, Canobie, and SFNE, so certainly not -my- park, but I lost my own "home" park (Rocky Point Park) when I was in my teens, and that -still- hurts, so I know I'll be doing what I can to support Playland as long as there's a shot. Incidentally, when Rocky Point closed, everyone used the same argument; "why defend it, if it was any good, it'd be successful and wouldn't be in this situation?" It only came out years too late that the park actually had made money every single year, except it had been embezzled by corrupt management and board members until they park had nothing left. Run by people that cared about it instead of money, it'd still be here...

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Oh the community is supporting it all right. The county is a good 80% of the their clientele. There's no outside marketing, which I believe is the true problem. People around me, a mere hour from the park, have never heard of Playland. As for the park's financial state, no one truly knows. Some say the park has lost money every year since it opened. Others say that the Park has lost money only in the last decade, and others say it is still making a profit. The community is supporting Sustainable, in a poll ( I forgot the link) Sustainable had 60% of the votes. I'm doubt Playland will change management next year or the year after. For once, politicians holding everything up is a good thing

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But hasn't the park been doing poorly for many years which is why it's in the situation it's in now? It would seem to me that if the community really supported the park it wouldn't be in this position, right?


If Rye Playland was operated by a private company that specialized in operating amusement parks, it would probably do just fine financially. Playland has always had to turn to outside people to run everything there on a concessionary basis and the people writing those contracts basically have no idea what they're doing. IIRC Playland doesn't even own the log flume they have and collects a pittance of its ticket value. Things like that are why Playland supposedly doesn't make money, not because the community "doesn't support it" or whatever. Which goes back to the question about Sustainable Playland: The belief, correct or not, is that they have no interest in the long term preservation of Playland, and that they are actually working on behalf of the local neighborhood (not Westchester County as a whole) to get rid of the park and increase their property value by cutting down the park size. If the facility isn't so large that it is unsustainable in the market, and the switch to a gated facility combined with complete financial management is the actual core problem (which is what many of them would likely argue in return), then the Sustainable Playland plan doesn't necessarily fix that but does plenty to dissuade people from continuing to come in the future.

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Yes, nearly everything at Playland is supplied by outside companies. The park has bought some of these rides in recent year's, but many of the concessions are outside. This is why Playland had to get rid of the Fun Card Points. The park trusted the ride owners that they would honestly report the number of "points" they received in ex amount of time. Thanks to human greediness, the park got short-handed by the ride owners, and the park discontinued the Fun Card Points. Yeah, the Park really doesn't know how to operate.

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The chairman of the Westchester Board of Legislators is asking a court to void an agreement between the county and Sustainable Playland, a nonprofit chosen by the county executive to take over Playland Amusement Park in Rye, adding more uncertainty to the already confused process of reinventing the historic park.


Legislator Ken Jenkins, D-Yonkers, filed a lawsuit challenging the county’s approval of an “asset-management” agreement, arguing that County Executive Rob Astorino exceeded his authority in turning over the park to the group for 10 years without the approval of the Board of Legislators.


“This is not about Chairman Jenkins finding fault with Sustainable Playland’s proposal,” said Tom Staudter, a spokesman for the board’s Democratic majority. “This is about the process necessary for moving forward with the reinvention of Playland in accordance with the county charter.”


Ned McCormack, a spokesman for Astorino, said the lawsuit “appears to be nothing more than obstruction on the part of Ken Jenkins.”


“It’s unfortunate that this is a distraction, but we will continue to move forward,” he said.


Astorino asked in 2010 for proposals to reinvent Playland, a national historic landmark, and make it financially independent of the county. He announced the choice of Sustainable Playland in the fall and, in April, said he had finished negotiating the 10-year asset management agreement.


After the agreement is executed in the next few weeks, Sustainable is supposed to submit an improvement plan for approval by the Board of Legislators. The board also is independently reviewing other proposals for the future of the park, and it’s not clear how the lawsuit will affect the process.


The lawsuit argues the Board of Legislators has authority over Playland and must approve leases longer than five years. Astorino said because the agreement was not a lease, it only had to be approved by the county’s Board of Acquisition and Contract, which he controls. But Staudter said the agreement has all the elements of a lease and confers rights beyond that of a license or management agreement.


McCormack disagreed. “This is not some semantic game here,” he said. “A lease has characteristics that are very different from an asset management agreement.”


Asked to weigh in on what approvals are required, County Attorney Robert Meehan said in February that the board didn’t have to approve the agreement but did have to approve any major construction at the park.


Sustainable Playland wants to bring in private operators to redevelop and run sections of the park, including a new aqua and beach zone, a field house and outdoor fields, a downsized amusement area and a great lawn and other public plazas and areas. The president of the board of Sustainable Playland, Kim Morque, said he hadn’t heard of the lawsuit and couldn’t comment.


The board challenged the Astorino administration in several lawsuits last year over issues including child-care subsidies, the membership of the county contracts board and the administration’s cancellation of a bus line. The Playland lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in White Plains, asks for a court date of June 24.

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Sustainable Playland, the nonprofit entity picked by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s administration to take over the management of Playland Amusement Park, has backed off plans to remove nearly one-third of the rides.


The group, which signed an “asset management” agreement with Astorino in a ceremony Tuesday at the park, was chosen in the fall to reinvigorate the national historic landmark and turn it into a year-round destination with new sports facilities, a new water area and new public spaces. Now Sustainable Playland officials propose a smaller great lawn — one of its signature improvements — and removing or relocating only a few rides.


The proposal to remove a large part of the amusement park had sparked opposition from the public and many county legislators.


The new vision for the park was a sidelight to the event of the day, which was the signing of a lease with Westchester Children’s Museum and a 10-year management agreement with Sustainable Playland. The Children’s Museum now can take over the north bathhouse at the park and begin work toward an opening day within 24 months. But Sustainable still needs more approvals for its proposed changes to the park and faces a challenge in state court by Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins, who is challenging Astorino’s decision to pick Sustainable without board approval.


But Astorino emphasized partnership at Tuesday’s ceremonies.


“Sustainable Playland had the best vision for what a family park in the 21st century should look like,” he told a crowd of guests and media on the boardwalk.


Astorino also said Tuesday that Mega Funworks has been replaced as operator of the amusement area by Central Amusement International, which runs Luna Park at Coney Island and is one of the 12 original groups to make a proposal for Playland. Sustainable plans to have private operators investing in and running different zones at the park while it acts as the overall manager.


Valerio Ferrari, president of Zamperla, the company behind Central Amusement, said its vision is similar to its original proposal, though it is “shifting a little bit, is shrinking a little bit.”


If Sustainable goes ahead as planned, the changes to the park will be made over several years, starting with the fountain plaza and the promenade. New playing fields and a fieldhouse also are planned, along with a revamped Ice Casino and a new water zone. Sustainable and its partners are expected to invest $34 million into the park.


The Playland Plunge, a large log ride, eventually will be removed to open up the shoreline, said Geoffrey Thompson, a spokesman for Sustainable Playland, along with a few smaller rides and small buildings. But the Log Flume will stay. The changes were made in response to the large amount of concern expressed about shrinking the amusement park, Thompson said.


“We’ll be able to create the great lawn, and it’s not maybe going to be quite as big as conceptualized,” he said.


Deputy County Executive Kevin Plunkett said after the signing that the administration hopes to persuade Jenkins to withdraw his lawsuit, saying, “It’s time to join forces and move this vision forward.”


But Jenkins said the County Charter requires the management deal to be submitted to the board for approval.


“I said, ‘Let’s just follow the procedure and there wouldn’t be any issues,’ ” he said.


Jenkins said the board also still has questions about Sustainable Playland’s plans. The board may not approve the fieldhouse, he said, because of the impact on parking. And the fundamental question remains whether, with additional investment, the county could run the park without turning over some of the revenue to private operators.


“Do we need this group of individuals to do that?” he asked. “If we invested in our own employees, could they do that? Which is the best way for taxpayers?”


Sustainable Playland has 30 days to submit its improvement plan to the administration, then it will go to the Board of Legislators. If the board doesn’t approve the plan by Jan. 1, Sustainable can pull out of the deal.


“The faster we can get this done, the better it is for the taxpayers of the county,” Astorino said.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Scared by the Sound will not be returning to Playland this Halloween season. Instead, it will be located in Cortlandt, NY, about 45 minutes north of Playland. The attraction is now indoors, in the former Training Zone. This is a great turn around after last year's hurricane Sandy destroyed many props. Like always, there will be new scenes and props added this year! Tickets are now 15.50$ and you can download a 1$ coupon online. For anyone who hasn't been, I totally recommend trying it out! It's not as good as Lake Copounce's Graveyard or Six Flags' Fright Fest, but it's less expensive, less crowded, and is still a great haunted attraction!



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This is the most comprehensive (although still not 100% clear) article about the recent state of Rye Playland.


Sustainable Playland Inc. Still wants to turn half the parking lot into sports fields. Many locals say that sports fields are not needed for the youth, plenty of fields exist in the area. Many locals also feel limited parking will ultimately strangle the amusement park forcing it to close. Some people behind Sustainable Playland originally wanted to just shut down the rides area.


Plans for amusement park improvements are still not approved. Sustainable Playland could still potentially ditch their proposed plans for the amusement area and let CAI follow their own proposal.


Central Amusement International which Sustainable Playland hired to run the park, has not moved forward on manufacturing any of their Zamperla rides for 2014, but would still have time to make installations for the 2014 season.


One legislator, Ken Jenkins, is still fighting the whole process saying there have been illegalities in how the whole process (turning over authority of a government park to a non-profit entity) was handled, but his lawsuit was recently dismissed by NY State Supreme Court.




Questions, Uncertainty Linger Over Plan For Playland In Rye

by Casey Donahue News 12/18/13


Many parties involved with reinventing Rye Playland still have questions about the process and the plan.


RYE, N.Y. -- County legislators and other parties involved in the reinvention of Playland Amusement Park still have questions regarding Sustainable Playland Inc.'s plans to take over and upgrade the park.


Members of the Board of Legislators' Government Operations Committee met on Tuesday, Dec. 17, with representatives from Central Amusements International, the company hired to operate the amusement portion of the reinvented Playland. The CAI officials said they are still waiting on some information such as an updated parking study, which could impact attendance and revenue projections.


"We're far away from settling things with SPI right now," said CAI Vice President Peter Pelle. He said that CAI has also asked for a letter issued from the county executive's office, naming them as an approved subcontractor for the Playland reinvention, but that the company has not yet received one.


"We're at a place where, generally speaking, we think people know what it is we can do, want to do, intend to do, would like to do, and really we just need to sit down and discuss something in more concrete terms with you, and with SPI," said Joe Montalto, a consultant with CAI. "It's just reached a point where I think that needs to happen. Otherwise, I don't know where we go."


Legislator Catherine Borgia said that the board is technically supposed to approve the Playland Improvement Plan by the end of the year, but that taking additional time to review would likely not trigger SPI to pull out of the asset management agreement. She said there is still a lot of uncertainty about the project.


"I feel like there's a lot of moving pieces," said Borgia. She said that the board has not received an updated parking plan and financials. There are also issues of a lawsuit by Legislator Ken Jenkins against the Playland Improvement Plan, as well as Rye residents' objections to the proposed field house.


CAI was one of the companies that had originally responded to the county's RFP with a plan to revitalize the park. Legislator Bill Ryan brought up the possibility of CAI going forward with its original plan, instead of SPI's plan.


"We really want to be a part of Playland. We entered into a letter of intent with SPI to try to stay involved in Playland. We made it clear to SPI that if there's a chance we might still want to pursue our own proposal, we can do that," Pelle said. He said that the company is willing to work with the companies running the Ice Casino and the Westchester Children's Museum, but that operating the sports zone and field house is not what they do.


With the delays in approval of the plan, Pelle said that the company is running out of time to manufacture and install new rides.

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I am personally hoping for Sustainable Playland to step away from the agreement and let CAI take control of the park. I think they've more than proven with Coney Island that they can take a historical park, and update it in a way they is both respectful and successful. It still blows my mind that Sustainable Playland continues to push for the removal of attractions in favor of "green lawns" and sports fields.

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As the Westchester County Board of Legislators prepares to dive into its review of plans to overhaul Playland Amusement Park, a group of Rye residents is pressing its opposition to a new field house to be built in the parking lot and Rye officials are asking for a greater role in the review.


Legislator Peter Harckham, who will coordinate the review as chairman of the parks committee, is promising an open process with hearings to allow legislators to hear from the public.


“This is a really important decision we’re making,” he said.


County Executive Rob Astorino in October 2012 chose Sustainable Playland, a nonprofit that grew out of Rye, to run Playland, refurbish its historic elements and bring in new attractions to make it a year-round destination. Now the Board of Legislators must approve the physical changes the group has proposed.


The Astorino administration said construction of a 95,000-square-foot field house and two outdoor fields will not have enough impact to require a full environmental impact statement.


But Rye officials are arguing the conclusions are premature and that the city can’t be left out of the process. In December, Rye’s corporation council sent a letter to the county saying the city has some approval authority over the changes to the park and arguing the potential environmental impacts require a more thorough environmental review.


And though there appears to be a lot of support for Sustainable Playland around Rye, a group of residents from the neighborhoods around the park has been fighting against the current plans, particularly the field house.


Kenneth Ball, one of the opponents, who lives less than a block from the park, is critical of both the lack of information on the project and the impacts he said the field house will have on his neighborhood. Ball had initially supported the choice of Sustainable Playland because he was sold on the increase in green space. But the improvement plan, which showed an increase in the size of the field house, changed his view.


“I call it seductive Playland rather than sustainable, because it doesn’t do anything for the land,” he said.


Ball and others say the field house is out of character with the rest of the park and will hurt their property values and quality of life, not least because it will take away a large section of the parking lot and create new parking headaches in the neighborhoods.


Sustainable Playland has put a slideshow on its website, www.sustainableplayland.org, seeking to counter the criticism of the field house. Opponents have their own website at http://nofieldzone.org.

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The size of the field house proposed at Rye Playland has been scaled back as county legislators begin analyzing Sustainable Playland Inc.'s plans to renovate the amusement park.


The field house has been reduced from 95,000 square feet to 82,500 square feet a 13 percent reduction. The section that is closer to the surrounding neighborhoods has been reduced, according to Bruce Macleod of SPI. This will increase the amount of parking by 100 spaces, and reduce the building's footprint to about five acres. The reduction was achieved by reducing space devoted to offices and other ancillary areas.


"As a result of several public meetings in Rye and taking all the input from the two advisory committees in Rye and the citizens, we've gone back to Playland Sports and said the issue that we see coming out of the community is, for the current time, the size of the field house," Macleod said. "I think it is a big step and it reflects what, from the operators' point of view, is kind of the minimum that they can go to in the economic sense of the plan."


Members of SPI and the County Executive's office met Tuesday with the Labor, Parks, Planning and Housing Committee of the County Board of Legislators to begin the process of analyzing the Playand Improvement Plan and determining what questions and concerns need to be addressed.


The first year of the plan will focus on building the field house, upgrading some rides at Kiddlyand and cleaning up the miniature golf and Fountain Zone area. Central Amusements, the company that will operate the Amusement Zone, will spend most of the first year understanding the operations of the park and its maintenance, with an eye on taking over in 2015.


SPI is also finalizing agreements for operation of the Ice Casino, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Repairs on the Ice Casino are expected to be finished this summer, with an anticipated opening in the beginning of September.


"We are going to be scheduling ice time, with the understanding that we could be turning this over to an operator at a time in the near future," said William Mooney, senior assistant the county executive.


The committee will be holding a meeting at Playland next Tuesday, March 18 at 9 a.m. Representatives from SPI will take the members through the aspects of the Playland Improvement Plan, and will be using cones to map out where the field house will go and how big it will be.

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The future of Playland Park was thrown into doubt Tuesday after Sustainable Playland, the nonprofit chosen by the county to take over the Rye park, put a hold on the county's review of its reinvention plans until legal questions are resolved.


The pause in the review raises questions about whether County Executive Rob Astorino's yearslong effort to reimagine Playland will fall apart, though some officials said they are hopeful the review can be restarted.


The group sent a letter to Astorino on Monday night saying a lawsuit by Legislator Ken Jenkins, D-Yonkers, coupled with the city of Rye's assertion that it has approval authority over the plans, have added too much uncertainty to the process. They asked Astorino to intervene.


Sustainable Playland Inc. has already spent $600,000 on the review, which has been going on since 2010, the letter said. In response, the Board of Legislators parks committee canceled a series of meetings on the Playland Improvement Plan on Tuesday.


"SPI is not a deep-pocketed private corporation," Kim Morque, Sustainable's president, wrote. "We are a group of citizens who came together with a civic mission to preserve one of the county's greatest assets. As such it is neither realistic nor feasible to expect that SPI can remain committed to the project indefinitely."


Regardless of the outcome of the discussions, Playland will open on May 10 as usual. The county has long planned to run the park this year but was hoping to begin transitioning the management to Sustainable.


In a statement, Astorino called for a meeting with Rye Mayor Joseph Sack and board Chairman Michael Kaplowitz to try to resolve the legal issues.


"For four years, our goal has been to save Playland," Astorino said. "We have reached the point that litigation now threatens our improvement plans and the park itself. It is now time for elected leaders to do everything in their power to resolve the legal impediments that stand in the way of moving forward on saving Playland for future generations."


Astorino chose Sustainable from 12 groups that responded to his 2010 request for proposals for an overhaul of Playland to make it a year-round attraction and bring in more revenue. The county and the nonprofit signed a management deal and Sustainable submitted a multi-year plan for overhauling the park and adding features including new fields and a field house. The plan was under review by the Board of Legislators.


Jenkins' lawsuit, filed last year, challenged Astorino's right to enter the management agreement without board approval. Then last week, the city of Rye sent a letter asserting its right to run the environmental review of the plans and the need for several city approvals.


Legislator Catherine Parker, a Democrat who represents Rye and has supported Sustainable's plans, was pessimistic about the possibility of salvaging the deal.


"My feeling was that the letter sent by the city of Rye to the county executive last week was probably going to be the straw that broke the camel's back," she said.


But Geoffrey Thompson, a spokesman for Sustainable, said they are only stepping to the sidelines. Rye's position creates a serious issue that could end up in court, he said, and both Sustainable and its operating partners need clarity.


"We just said this is not productive and we need to know where we're going and how we're going to get there," Thompson said.


If Sustainable does eventually pull out, two other groups that responded to the county's original request for proposals in 2010, Central Amusement International, which runs Luna Park at Coney Island, and Standard Amusements, have said they are still interested in running the amusement park. Central has teamed with Sustainable Playland and will operate the amusement park if its plans are approved.


Legislator Peter Harckham, D-North Salem, chairman of the parks committee, said he hopes the review can continue while the legal issues are resolved.


"I hope we don't go back to square one," he said.


Short version: Sustainable Playland got the contract to run the park, but various people within local government have gone through legal channels to question whether or not that was even something that was legally allowable in the manner done. Also, the city wants to assert that the park can't just do what it wants, and still has to seek approval through them with the new management. With that resistance, Sustainable Playland is probably heading out and the conflict continues whilst the park operates on.

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^Maybe it is just me, but I see Sustainable Playland bowing out as a total blessing for this park. There were other, extremely qualified companies like Legoland and CAI Amusements that proposed options for the park and were turned away. If Sustainable Playland throws in the towel, one of these other companies seize the opportunity to get their proposals back on track.

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^Maybe it is just me, but I see Sustainable Playland bowing out as a total blessing for this park.


I completely agree. Not only did they want to reduce the size of the park, but taxpayers would still be on the hook for a lot of the operating costs. I don't know how they ever went with them in the first place.

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I didn't like Sustainable at all until they agreed to increase the ride area. After that I felt like Sustainable was still very far from perfect (and much worse than CAI). I'm at the point now where I don't have a preference over the county owning the park or Sustainable. But, if the county can get CAI back into the game that would be awesome!!!

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  • 3 weeks later...



Westchester has set a deadline for May 1 for nonprofit Sustainable Playland to make a decision on the future of its project with the amusement park.


One of the main issues is who will take over as lead agency in the environmental review process. Both Westchester County and Rye are vying for the title, and new concerns from the city have brought the project to a standstill.


Sustainable Playland has spent the past three years and at least $600,000 to turn the park into a year-round attraction. The park is set to open on May 10.


Westchester County Board Chair Mike Kaplowitz and Sustainable Playground President Kim Morque will appear on this weekend's Newsmakers to discuss the issues surrounding the project.

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