Today Rye's Westchester County Legislator Judy Myers weighs in on the fate of Playland after recent comments by County Exec Rob Astorino. In a MyRye.com exclusive, Myers tells readers Playland is "sustainable" but she supports Astorino's RFP process for Playland.
You can talk about rollercoasters and other hot button issues with Myers and State Rep George Latimer this Saturday morning at their "Cup of Joe" program in Rye.
The "Fate" of Playland by Judy Myers
There are 214 acres of property in Rye, along the Long Island Sound, that are owned by Westchester County. This property is currently one of the only public access points to the Sound between NYC and CT.
Westchester County is one of the most desirable residential areas in the U.S. It draws residents and businesses because of its greatest resource: its quality of life. This does not come cheaply; it costs money to maintain. But it’s the easy access to NYC, especially from southern Westchester, the farms and open space of northern Westchester, the beautiful Hudson River with its views and trails, the beautiful Sound and its beaches and marinas, its private clubs and homes, that act as lures. And, thanks to careful planning, it’s also the patchwork quilt of public parks that dot Westchester that add to the quality of life here.
Playland is one of Westchester’s most popular parks. It attracts over 1 million visitors a year. It currently brings in $15 million of revenue and costs $16 million to run. It carries about $3 million of debt service, and it employs approximately 900 people. It is also the single largest employer of youth in the county.
Is it an anachronism? Yes… if a small, family-oriented, neighborhood historical site is considered an anachronism. It can’t compete with the large, thrilling amusement parks… but the residential area in which it is located could not sustain the traffic and crowds necessary to truly compete… and to succeed financially.
Is it sustainable? Yes… as a park that doesn’t bring in the same kind of revenue, doesn’t provide the same kinds of employment, and doesn’t cost taxpayers an additional $1 million per year. It is sustainable, I believe, as a Long Island Sound public park with acres and acres of open space, all year long. As home to the Westchester Children’s Museum on the boardwalk, to outdoor cafes that don’t interfere with boardwalk runners and walkers, to historic “Kiddyland” for the very young, an Ice Casino for year-round skating, and a music tower for summer concerts. Sustainable as a park with a beautiful boathouse and lake rides and a carousel for nostalgia’s sake, and walkways and trails for all to enjoy. Last but not least: FIELDS! Playing fields for field-starved lower Westchester, for youth and adult sports, where club teams can rent practice time, match and game time. Our forefathers were prescient enough to recognize the value of housing in this area, but not of open space. And there’s little of it to be had in this neck of the county.
I support the County Executive’s request for proposals for Playland; the time is right to make a change. But I will not support anything that brings more traffic into this residential neighborhood, nor any discussions that do not include Rye residents at the table, or anything that prohibits public access to the Long Island Sound. I fought against Ikea in 2001 and I will fight against any similar “money makers” that are out of place in Rye. But I will gladly work to take the “amusements” out of Playland and keep this park as the Rye jewel on the Sound that it deserves to be.