Playland: Standard sues Westchester, asks court to preserve its deal to run amusement park Mark Lungariello, Rockland/Westchester Journal News Published 7:54 a.m. ET June 3, 2019 | Updated 4:14 p.m. ET June 3, 2019
Westchester is set to approve a $500K contract for an outside attorney. Standard was to take over management in November.
The company that was supposed to take over management of Playland amusement park is suing Westchester County in bankruptcy court.
Westchester, which owns Playland, is trying to kill a 30-year contract with Standard Amusements but the company said in federal court papers Sunday that it wants to invalidate the termination – and have the county pay its legal fees, costs and other relief.
Standard filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy May 27, one day before the county was going to dissolve the company’s contract to operate the park on Rye’s Long Island Sound Shore. County Executive George Latimer, a Democrat, sought to end the deal that was struck in 2016 – two years before he was in office.
Attorney John Rapisardi, of the firm O’Melveny & Myers, asserted in an adversary proceeding complaint that the county had sought a way to get out of the deal since the changeover from Latimer’s predecessor, Republican Rob Astorino.
“It was clear from Mr. Latimer’s public statements, and his conduct, that he had no interest in preserving the Agreement or even talking to SA,” Rapisardi wrote in the 26-page filing. “He had one goal: terminate the Agreement by any means necessary.”
Elsewhere in the complaint, the attorney said Westchester couldn’t reverse a deal from a previous administration when a contract is in place.
“Rather, just as a corporation’s new management cannot abrogate the contracts prior management entered into, a government cannot walk away from binding agreements made by past administrations simply because the new administration does not like them,” the court filing said.
Adversary proceedings are decided within a bankruptcy case, usually with the goal of wiping out a debt to the company that is in the midst of reorganizing. Although the company denies any breaches of its contract, it’s asking the court to rule the breaches are fixable and give the company a change to comply.
Westchester lawmakers were set to approve a contract Monday with the law firm Paul, Riskind, Wharton and Garrison for up to $500,000 to represent the county in bankruptcy court. Usually contracts beyond $75,000 need to go out to written bidding, but John Nonna, attorney for the Latimer administration, said there wasn't enough time to go through the formal process.
Catherine Cioffi, a spokeswoman for Latimer, said she wouldn't comment on pending litigation. She said the county is "focused on having a great 2019 season at Playland." Standard was supposed to take over management in November, after this season.
Standard has said losing its contract would eliminate its only source of revenue. Westchester has taken the position that the company breached the terms of its contract but Standard denied that and says it has been rebuffed in efforts to address the county’s concerns.
It said while county officials said they were unhappy with the deal, they never identified any potential changes to Standard. The county formally accused Standard of breaching the deal last year, taking issue with the company’s claimed investment in the park, which included salaries, travel and expenses.
The company has contended the spending was allowed under the terms of its contract which allows for “overheard” and has a section that says any spending by the manager after May 1, 2016, will count toward the investment.
It had offered to write off that spending in recent months and it had also offered to increase its overall investment. Under the terms of the deal, Standard was to pay an annual management fee and invest more than $27 million into the park.
Standard said that in a May 2018 deal with Jadian UP Holdings, a real estate and asset investment company, $40 million was committed to Standard’s parent, United Parks. The filing said $20 million was drawn so far and the remainder would be available if the contract is preserved.
The suit names the county, Latimer, parks Commissioner Kathleen O’Connor and Hugh Greechan, commissioner of the Department of Public Works.
A Standard spokesman didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
As usual, my analysis is free of charge! Original enough to not steal someone else's quote as a signature
It is amazing that this saga continues to drag on in such a way... Rye Playland needs an established operator to come in, invest and clean up the operation. Such litigation only delays Rye's prospects for success.
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
jedimaster1227 wrote:It is amazing that this saga continues to drag on in such a way... Rye Playland needs an established operator to come in, invest and clean up the operation. Such litigation only delays Rye's prospects for success.
The saga continues because there's a significant number of people with money who don't want Rye to exist. If Standard doesn't believe they breached the terms of the contract, then why shouldn't they sue to prevent a unilateral attempt by a politician to do enormous financial damage to them?
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