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Rye Playland May Close: Astorino

The Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino received a committee report on re-inventing Rye Playland Thursday and said it remains a possibility that Playland will be shuttered in 2012. Rye Mayor Doug French is one of the committee members that drafted the report.

The AP story said in part:

"WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Closing Westchester County's historic but money-losing Playland amusement park would save taxpayers $2 million next year and has to be considered in coming up with a 2012 budget, the county executive said Thursday.

County Executive Rob Astorino said such a move would be "drastic" and he was not yet recommending it.

But he warned that the county could face a $100 million deficit in 2012 and vowed he would not raise taxes to cover any of it. He said something has to be done to stanch the losses at Playland…

Astorino, a Republican, said attendance this year declined to 420,000 from last year's 500,000 and 1 million in 2000.

A budget proposal to close the amusement park would have to be approved by the Democrat-dominated county Legislature.

Democrat Judy Myers, whose district includes the park, said, "I don't see a time when we wouldn't have an amusement park there. There's too much there that's beloved and historical."…

The county executive emphasized that closing the amusement park was just an option so far, and that even if it was closed for 2012 it could reopen later. He said he hoped eventually to be known as "the man who saved Playland.""

  1. Now you’ll always have me curious when there’s a murky discussion of ‘debt service.” Other writers on this subject over time have pointed out that while Playland’s “debt service” has been identified – and in effect “charged” to its operational profitability measurement – other county owned parks and recreational facilities are not similarly measured or “charged.” Is this true – do the county financial statements not clearly identify other debt service requirements by venue? Is there a link to the county financial statements where this kind of typical (in commercial and or private enterprises) disclosure is presented?

  2. tedc : other county parks are just open land with no admission fee so obviously with no cash generation , they lose $ . Playland is an aging business whose clients are mostly from ourtside the county and losing attendance year after year .

    The better question is why Astorino isn’t making a decision yet on all the proposals from private sector put forth many months ago .

    Sustainable Playland group looked like a winner for all . Get rid of the amusement park , keep boardwalk and beach access and Children’s Museum and let private sector build some playing fields that could be covered wityh bubbles and used year round as well as a few appropriate restaurants around the periphery .

    Plenty of folks would get jobs YEAR ROUND in the private sector jobs brought in vs min wage jobs for the summer that Playland provides to kids .

    The public gets access to LI Sound and open areas , the beach is maintained , year round athletic fields ar ebadly needed and would be highly profitable rented out and a hand full of ‘good’ restaurants that agree to low profile buildings off in background is additional revenue generators .

    If Astorino instead wants to sell park to some of the private amusement park operators to keep the idea alive , THEN DO THAT ! Simply closing it and letting it become an abandoned park that will quickly fall apart and become a spot for homeless and kids and other problems to gather in would be the truly stupid idea .

  3. Ted, you are correct about the debt service being murky. Playland actually made a profit the year before this season until they added the debt service. Playland Watch does a good job of outlining the issues here: http://playlandwatch.org/facts
    I don’t think Playland is run all that well, there is significant room for improvement but many of the suggestions to improve it made by various parties are simple. Golf courses cost the county more money and they aren’t screaming to close those even though they serve far fewer people. A little common sense would go a long way here.

  4. Steve I think you’re on to something with the golf courses. Other commentators have pointed out that golf courses are cap ex hogs and need feeding with debt and debt service. But they and other county owned users of borrowing for “improvements” and “plant upgrades” don’t get measured like Playland. And that might just be an inconsistent treatment done-a-purpose. Political purpose that is.

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