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All Sides Declare Victory in Playland PR War

We are from the government and we are here to help you…Watch out…  on Monday night there were three PR releases on  Rye Playland inside of an hour  - one from Astorino, one from the Democratic Board of Legislators and one from Legislator and Rye resident Catherine Parker.

All discussed the finalization of Standard Amusements as the manager for Rye Playland with a "formal hand over" happening October 15th but co-management happening for the rest of this season. As you might imagine, all sides declared of the news:

it's great for Playland

it's great for tax payers

it's great for the local community (AKA Rye)

they made the final agreement successful (if it was up to the other guys, they would have screwed it up something bad, real bad)

All the PR releases are below for your reading pleasure.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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at 9:30pm from the BOL

Legislators Input on Playland Plan Benefitted County Taxpayers

(WHITE PLAINS, NY) During the Board of Legislators June 15th meeting, the much-anticipated vote to approve the management agreement between the County and Standard Amusements took place and passed unanimously.   

After being instrumental in dismantling the Sustainable Playland proposal, Democrats on the Board of Legislators felt that the public-private partnership needed to include commitments to undertake certain capital projects and protect employees to avoid layoffs as a result of this deal and they were successful in those efforts.

Catherine Borgia, the Board’s Majority Leader said, “From exposing the flaws of the earlier Sustainable Playland proposal to the long term collaboration with Standard Amusements that led to the inclusion of specific provisions in the current agreement, our due diligence had a clear benefit for Westchester County taxpayers that will improve Playland and set it up to succeed for generations to come.  In areas from capital improvements to the size and scope of the park and protection of the workforce, the diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise of the Democratic caucus helped combat a flawed first proposal and more recently yielded strong results that will protect our taxpayers, accomplishing our top priority for this deal.”

“There is no question that our review was thorough and comprehensive and got to the root of all the issues that taxpayers demand,” stated Legislator MaryJane Shimsky, who chaired the committee that oversaw the review of the proposal after Legislator Peter Harckham resigned earlier this month.  “The lines of questioning that were undertaken by my colleagues were always with the interests of our constituents in mind and helped us craft an arrangement that will be beneficial to Playland and ultimately Westchester’s taxpayers.”

“This is one of the largest public investments that has been made at Playland in decades and will make significant strides towards revitalizing one of the County’s greatest assets,” Legislator Parker, who represents the physical park, stated.  “Making sure that taxpayers get everything they could out of this deal was always my top priority and until the specific capital improvements were memorialized in writing, I could not have supported this proposal.  This was not a perfect process by any stretch but I believe that the taxpayers will benefit from the increased value of Playland as a result of the capital infusion it will receive.”

Legislator Lyndon Williams said, “After careful consideration, the changes that my colleagues and I stood up for make this proposal much better for the residents of Westchester County than the original proposal.  I commend all of the Legislators that asked intelligent questions and the leadership of Standard Amusements for their partnership in crafting a deal that works for Playland and county taxpayers.”

In one of his first votes as a County Legislator, newly appointed Legislator from the 2nd district, Alan Cole explained his vote, “Playland has so many positive memories for so many people and it would be a shame to see those memories clouded and the park drastically altered.  It was very important that one of my first votes be one that advocated for the best interests of taxpayers and also satisfied the concerns of those that live in the immediate surrounding areas.  I believe this plan accomplishes both of those goals thanks to the sound work of many members of the Board of Legislators.”

“I believe that in any negotiation, all of the involved parties have to make sacrifices in order to accomplish their goals.  In this case, all of the parties involved stuck to the main goal of making sure that Playland functions as an asset that works for our constituents.  As a result of that good faith, the input we had during this process, as opposed to the first proposal, accomplished that goal and made a better arrangement that taxpayers can be proud of,” stated Legislator Alfreda Williams.

Legislator Ben Boykin stated, “It was very important that this public-private partnership protected the workers at Playland that have been there for a long time, oversee the park’s day to day functions and often have critical skills that we could not live without.  I am thankful that Standard Amusements was willing to work collaboratively with us to accomplish that goal without the taxpayers taking any additional burden as a result.  The financial investment by Standard Amusements will return Playland to one of the crown jewels in our park system and will enhance the visitor experience to this iconic landmark.”

Legislator Ken Jenkins, whose legal action is credited with to protect this prime asset of the people Westchester explained, “This arrangement does not go far enough to benefit Westchester taxpayers and short circuited the due diligence that eventually crippled the previous agreement.  Given those circumstances, I commend my colleagues for their efforts in crafting legislation that begins to take some of the steps forward that Playland desperately needs.  I believe Standard Amusements is a solid partner in this effort and will do a quality job in upgrading Playland, I remain concerned that there is no way to enforce the numerous agreements and insure this prime waterfront park remains available to all but I am willing to support the agreement to give this incarnation of the County Executive's proposal.”

Standard Amusements will now begin a co-management period of Playland with the County Parks Department for the remainder of this season.  It is expected that Standard Amusements will become the sole operator of the Park on October 31, 2015.

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@8:45pm from Catherine Parker

Legislator Catherine Parker Secures Significant Capital Investments in Playland 

(WHITE PLAINS, NY) As the negotiations on the proposed management agreement for Playland come to a close, Legislator Catherine Parker was able to secure significant capital investments for the park on top of what Standard Amusements had already committed to undertaking.  Parker’s victory in securing these commitments will drastically improve the condition of the park and stands as the largest public investment Playland has received in decades.

The agreement memorialized in a memorandum of understanding spelled out which capital projects the county will undertake in conjunction with those that Standard will be facilitating.  That list includes:

·         North Boardwalk (currently in design)

·         Colonnades

·         Lights on Playland Parkway

·         Playland Structural system

·         Fire Suppression System

·         Playland Pathway

“This is one of the largest public investments that has been made at Playland in decades and will make significant strides towards revitalizing one of the County’s greatest assets,” Legislator Parker stated.  “Making sure that taxpayers get everything they could out of this deal was always my top priority and until the specific capital improvements were memorialized in writing, I could not have supported this proposal.”

The County Executive’s initial proposal raised significant concerns for local residents and ultimately did not hold up to scrutiny from the Board of Legislators.  When the County Executive entered into the agreement with Standard Amusements, the Board of Legislators began their due diligence again and have significantly improved it from its original form by securing commitments about capital projects, size and scope of the park and employee protections. 

Parker continued, “This was not a perfect process by any stretch but I believe that the taxpayers will benefit from the increased value of Playland as a result of the capital infusion it will receive.”

The full Board of Legislators voted to approve this agreement during the June 15th meeting.    

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@8:30pm, from Astorino:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  June 15, 2015

ASTORINO WINS BOL APPROVAL FOR REVITALIZATION OF PLAYLAND

Park’s Long-Term Future Secured with $25 Million Private Investment

Standard Amusements to Co-Manage Playland for 2015 Season 

By a vote of 17-0, the Board of Legislators (BOL) on Monday approved Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino’s agreement with New York-based Standard Amusements for the management and revitalization of Playland. Under the agreement, Standard Amusements will invest $25 million in private money into Playland over the next five years, securing the long-term future of the county’s iconic 100-acre amusement park in Rye.

“I want to thank Chairman Kaplowitz for his leadership on moving this forward with the necessary speed and due diligence,” Astorino said. “This deal meets our three goals for preserving Playland by reversing the losses for taxpayers, putting the park in the hands of a top-flight operator, and revitalizing Playland as a must-visit destination for families for years to come.”

Nicholas Singer, a successful investor and native of Westchester, architected the deal to restore the unique character of Playland. 

“We’d like to thank the BOL for supporting our plans to return Playland to that special place I knew as a child.  In hearings over the past two months, we’ve made a detailed effort to inform the local community of the steps we’ll take to restore the park, and we’re excited to have received its strong vote of confidence,” Singer said.  “We’re excited to now move to the next phase, and begin the co-management arrangement, under the experienced eye of our CEO, Jack Falfas.”

The $25 million investment will go toward revitalizing Playland with new rides and attractions, as well as upgrading food choices, picnic areas, and restaurants and renovating grounds and buildings. Standard Amusements will pay the county $2,250,000 up front; invest $22,750,000 million of its money within five years into refurbishing the park; and make annual payments to the county starting at $300,000 and escalating 2% a year. The county will also receive 7.5% of profits once Standard Amusements has recouped its initial investment.

For its $25 million investment, Standard Amusements will receive the right to operate the park for 15 years with an option to renew for an additional 15 years under what is being called the Playland Management Agreement (PMA). Standard Amusements has entered into an operating arrangement with United Parks, which is headed by CEO Jack Falfas.  The structure of the PMA allows the county to retain full control of the property, as well as any material benefits from the capital improvements made by Standard Amusements.

With the BOL’s approval on Monday, Standard Amusements will now co-manage Playland for the remainder of the 2015 season and will begin the transition to its role of sole operator on Nov. 1, 2015. Under the agreement, Standard Amusements will manage the amusement park, parking lot, beach, pool area and boardwalk. Outside the agreement are the Children’s Museum, Pier Restaurant & Tiki Bar, Edith Read Sanctuary and the Ice Casino.

Standard Amusements will continue the park’s current admission policies which includes entry into the amusement park on a fee basis. Access to the boardwalk and other areas that are currently free will remain as such.

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