64.9 F
Rye
Friday, December 9, 2022
Home Government Judy Myers on The “Fate” of Playland

Judy Myers on The “Fate” of Playland

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

Playland Rollercoaster w Myers and Astorino

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.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Glad that Judy sees the wisdom of using such a large space for athletic fields, but I don’t see how her numbers on the current operations add up – $16 million in revenues, less $15 million in costs would result in a $1 million gain, but everyone knows the park is losing money in its current form. There are ways to turn it into a cashflow-positive operation free of government management, and it does not require a big-box store or stores on site. I think it’s a safe bet that such an offensive retail operation would never happen.

  2. What the ‘for profit’ managers among us would probably like to see Judy is what the prior year segmented operational profit and loss statements look like for the discrete park operations before general overhead is allocated. In other words, which operations – sans general overhead – cost taxpayers the most to operate.
    Because if you’re a telltale for the direction of the political class Judy, I’ll guess that the coming park “rationalization” may see newer capital intensive rides discontinued and older historic adult rides operated on a less frequent schedule with possibly the Ye Old Mill shuttered permanently. So if we’re looking at that as a pro forma model, and assuming as a baseline Kiddyland is open seasonally as usual, taxpayers should be able to see the assumptions for revenue and expense – and capital costs – of the historic ride plant COMPARED AGAINST their 3 to 5 year prior actual results.
    The county website would be a great place to begin depositing this kind of segmented data so that private sector types who pay county taxes could review and comment about them. And don’t let ‘em give you the old “we don’t keep the records that way” baloney. A competent accountant could reconstruct the segments from the general data in short order.

  3. Hi all,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your lively discussion on this, and I’m hoping to work on a story with your thoughts on Playland and the Children’s Museum. There has been a lot of talk from officials but not enough from local folks.

    Would any of you be willing to talk for a quick few minutes? I can be reached at 914-582-5507 or you can email your number to tjuva@lohud.com

    Thanks so much,
    Theresa
    Staff writer
    The Journal News

  4. Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought Westcheter has many athletic fields but only one amusement park. Why would you want to dismantle the only amusement park north of NYC to put up another dime-a-dozen athletic field? That line of thinking puzzles me. Now I’m really worried about the fate of Playland. Can our elected officials ever think out of the box or do we always get the obligatory conventional wisdom all the time?

  5. How about designating the whole Playland Park as a museum being it has Art Deco style built almost 90 years ago and change the admission to a donation making it tax deductible?

  6. Sorry — won’t work. You can only take a charitable deduction in excess of the value of goods received. Since Playland has already established FMV for admission, only an amount over that would be deductible.

    And that is assuming the IRS would grant the change in status (which it wouldn’t).

  7. Judy Myer’s thoughtful response to the “fate” of Playland is very much appreciated by all of us who have worked over the years to create a museum for children in Westchester County.

    To those of you who are unfamiliar with the campaign to build the Westchester Children’s Museum, it will be a world class learning institution that reflects the diverse residents of our region through a commitment to intergenerational learning and building awareness of the environment and the cultures and customs of our neighbors. The content will draw from the dramatic history, cultural diversity, flourishing ecosystems, and rich literary and artistic traditions of our region. Our architecture and exhibition design and our programming has been informed and shaped by the advice of countless advisors in the fields of education, early childhood development, special needs, elementary school curriculum specialists, and cultural advisors.

    We have raised funds to build out the museum at the Playland Bathhouses and are shovel ready. Studies from the Association of Children’s Museum show that children’s museums are the economic anchors of revitalization projects in many of the communities in which they are built. Building a Museum in the Playland Bathhouse, that will serve our families, our children, our schools, and draw tourists, will benefit any future form that Playland Park takes. In fact, it can become the cultural and recreational hub of the Park and revitalize the complex as we now know it.

    Until the walls of this museum are built, we provide educational outreach to children in community programs across the County and in Fairfield, all of which are underwritten by private, foundation and corporate donors.

    Building the Museum at the Playland Bathhouses provides a unique opportunity for adaptive reuse of historic landmark buildings which have been unoccupied for more than 40 years. The location on the Sound offers unprecedented opportunities for environmental learning. And, the site is accessible from every major roadway and public transportation.

    I will close this note by letting the readers know that Museum will be self-sustaining though fundraising, memberships, admission, and other revenue-generating activities. We do not seek taxpayer money to build this Museum and in fact will be an economic benefit the County.

    I invite you to visit the website to learn more – http://www.discoverwcm.org.

    Regards,
    Corinne Zola
    President
    Westchester Children’s Museum

Leave a Reply to Average Citizen Cancel reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here