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Eleven Ideas For A New Playland

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County pol Rob Astorino received eleven proposals for a new Rye Playland by his deadline last Thursday, March 10th. Next up a 19 member citizens committee will review all the proposals and present their recommendations to Astorino. The citizens committee includes Rye's Mayor Doug French and Rye resident and Chairman of the Playland Strategic Planning Committee for Rye Charles Dorn.

The 11 proposals received by the county run the gamut from broad-based plans for the entire property to those that focus exclusively on the amusement park, the boardwalk or the ice casino. Elements of some of the proposals include new attractions, enhancement of rides, indoor and outdoor ball fields and  an educational/science component to the entire park.

[Publisher's note: if you represent one of these 11 companies and have not been in touch with MyRye.com, please contact us.]

The proposals were from:

Boardwalk Arts of Rye
State Fair Group of Bellville, NJ
TPC Rye, a division of Paidia Co. of Baton Rouge, LA
Central Amusements International of Boonton, NJ
ASATI/Stonehill, a joint venture of Air Structures American Technologies of Rye Brook and the Stonehill Group of Westport, CT
Standard Amusements of New York City
Valentine Creative Marketing of Rye
American Skating Entertainment Centers of Elmsford
Sustainable Playland of Rye
Q Properties of Norwalk, CT
Playlandwatch.org  (no address)

Last week, Astorino appointed a 19-member citizen committee made up of representatives from the city and town of Rye, the county Board of Legislators, business, and real estate, as well environmentalists, park experts and park users. The committee is chaired by Jim Chisholm, chairman of the county’s Parks Board.

According to its announcement "the county will remove confidential and proprietary information, so as to safeguard the interests of all the parties involved". Top secret admission price? Security clearance to ride the Dragon Coaster? We hope the citizens committee gets all the information it needs to make its assessment.

The committee’s role is to evaluate the 11 proposals based on what the county is calling the “5 E’s.”

Economics – Does the proposal offer a financially viable long-term business model? While the county does not expect to make a profit at the park, the current fiscal situation cannot continue.
Environment – Is the proposal appropriate to local surroundings, area zoning and the environment?
Entertainment – Is the proposal consistent with the purpose of a park?
Experience – Can the county feel confident about the proposer’s track record with respect to finances, customer service, safety and deadlines?
Expectations – Is the proposal realistic?

The citizens committee will be responsible for submitting a written report on the feasibility of the proposals. The expectation is that the committee would have its report completed by the end of June, however, this is not a hard deadline should the committee need more time.  The committee is expected to meet for the first time in early April. The committee’s report would then be integrated into the formal RFP process. At that point, confidential and proprietary information will be evaluated by the county.

Under the RFP process, the county is not obligated to accept any of the proposals. 

The hope is that the county executive will have enough information to set a direction for moving forward, or not, on the RFP’s by the end of November. The implementation phase, which would include contract negotiations and obtaining all the necessary legal, financial, environmental, local and other approvals, would follow, assuming a decision had been made to move forward on a proposal or combination of proposals. It’s estimated that the implementation phase would take several years to complete.

This year, Playland will open for the season in May, operating in a similar manner to last season.

Since 1928, the focal point of the property has been the amusement park, which today has 50 major rides and attractions and covers about 30 acres. The prototype of today’s modern theme parks, Playland was the country’s first totally planned amusement park. Seven of its rides and several of its art deco buildings are designated as National Historic Landmarks.

Westchester County currently owns and operates the park – one of only a handful of governmental bodies to be in the amusement park business. Attendance has dropped over the past five years from 1 million in 2005 to 494,000 in 2010.

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