On Monday, the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) approved a ten year lease agreement for the operation of a children's museum in a historic building on County property at Playland. The unanimous vote received bi-partisan support.County Exec Astorino now has to approve things on his end.
Under the terms of the lease, the Westchester Children's Museum will occupy about half, or approximately 21,390 square feet, of the former men's bathhouse on the Playland boardwalk and make $6,441,300 in interior and exterior renovations in exchange for a yearly rent of one dollar ($1).
"The reuse of a portion of the Playland bathhouse as a children's museum is consistent with the family-oriented concept and mission of this wonderful County resource," said Rye rep and Majority Whip Judy Myers, who sponsored the lease bill in the Budget & Appropriations Committee. "The museum will serve as another attraction at Playland during the summer months, and will bring visitors out through the rest of the year as well."
Suzanna Keith, Myers challenger in this fall's election, seemed to be in violent agreement. "This is great news for the WCM and the families of the Sound Shore," Keith, Rye City Councilwoman Candidate for County Legislator 7th District, told MyRye.com.
The bathhouse was constructed in 1928, but use of its north and south wings has been discontinued for many years because of decreased patron demand. (Smaller lockers rooms within the center section of the bathhouse are presently in use.) The County has been rehabilitating the building structure. Under the lease agreement, the Westchester Children's Museum will be responsible for making capital improvements to the building, all of which will be subject to approval of the Westchester Department of County Parks, Recreation and Conservation, along with the Department of Public Works because of the Playland's National Historic Landmark designation.
If the Westchester Children's Museum is not open a year after signing the lease, the property reverts back to Parkland. All of the parking fees collected for visitors to the museum will go into the County's coffers. To date, the Children's Museum has raised over $8 million for the project. Tracy Kay from the Children's Museum expects to have 198,000 visitors per year and 50,000 cars over the course of a year.