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And Now, Dems Want to Extend Leash of New Playland Operator Before Commit

We can no longer follow this logic.

After Astorino delayed the "wedding date" with Standard Amusements earlier this week, the Democratic boss is extending the leash even further. He wants to give Standard Amusements until the end of 2016 to decide if they want to "walk down the aisle" with the county on Playland "now that they know the true condition of Playland’s dilapidated infrastructure".

Huh?

Can any rational person explain this? Do the politicians on both sides have some sort of concussion from riding the Dragon Coaster?

Here is the PR below. If you can make sense of this, please post an explanation in the comments.

"Jenkins Calls to Extend Playland Co-Management Agreement Until End of 2016

(White Plains, NY) – After the County Executive asked for an extension of the deadline to turn the management of Playland over to Standard Amusements, Legislator Ken Jenkins is calling for a more prudent and honest alternative of extending the co-management period through the end of 2016.

“The County Executive’s need for an extension on this period only proves that he wasn’t up front about the condition of the park in the first place,” Jenkins stated. “The County Executive negotiated this deal in secret after wasting $100,000 of taxpayers money on a report that told him the park needed a lot of work and yet he continued to be unwilling to make the necessary investments in Playland.”

The Board of Legislators approved a management agreement with Standard Amusements in June of this year that included a public investment in capital projects to match the private investment put in by Standard.

“Extending the deadline to March 31st does nothing for anyone,” Jenkins continued. “The whole point of this deal was to get the costs of operating Playland off the county’s books and by extending the deal at all, the County Executive is admitting failure at that objective. If it is going to be on our books for the coming year, we should give Standard Amusements an honest shot at success now that they know the true condition of Playland’s dilapidated infrastructure.”

With the County getting ready to enter its budget process for the next fiscal year facing a deficit of over $56 million, the ability to remove costs from the budget very quickly was a strong selling point of entering into this agreement. As a result, Jenkins believes that the capital projects that the county is going to undertake must be a part of the 2016 budget plan, approved by the Board of Legislators.

“Including these capital projects in the public budget process this year and extending the co-management period to run through the entire fiscal year will hold this administration’s feet to the fire to be truthful about what Playland needs are. Any further inability to revitalize Playland after that period would only be a result of lack of interest in the first place,” Jenkins concluded."

9 COMMENTS

  1. There is one person who has been saying there are issues with this deal from the very beginning. If you really want good information about what Playland really needs, I highly recommend you follow Friends of Playland on Facebook run by Deirdre Curran. She has been a tireless advocate for the park and was instrumental in the downfall of SPI. The County spends plenty of money on parks that don’t produce revenue…but refuse to invest in a park that can make a return on the investment. Why?

  2. I *think* I can try to make *some* sense of this particular move/statement by Jenkins, but please don’t ask me to make any sense of this whole mess, because I’ve been living, eating and breathing it for three years and my head is about ready to explode. I believe what Jenkins is getting at here is that they MUST keep Playland in the 2016 Budget, which the BOL will receive from the CE’s office on 11/17/15. Then they are supposed to work on it until 12/7 – but speculation I’ve heard this year is the County Budget approval process may have to extend beyond that deadline this year. They HAVE to know NOW whether or not Playland is going to need money for the 2016 season for an operating budget. So, even if they give Standard an extension until March, that is essentially already too late and it’s a moot point, the County has to run the Park for the 2016 season, they will already have it in the Budget. They can’t wait around until March to see if this deal is going to implode (and all signs right now point to “implode”), they have to have all the money in place with an operating budget for the Park before that. WELL before that. What Jenkins is essentially saying is that due to the Budget, the only thing they really CAN do logically is extend the agreement thru the 2016 FISCAL YEAR. At a BOL Budget & Appropriations Committee meeting this past Monday, Deputy County Exec Kevin Plunkett dropped this bomb about an extension. He clearly stated that they need to make sure when they put the 2016 County Budget together that Playland’s operating budget is included in that. Which is why they had these dates set. It’s not arbitrary. It’s all based around the County Budget season starting right after Election Day and everyone needing to know at that point whether Standard was going to be ready to run the Park in the Spring or not. The problem is…Standard IS NOT READY. All the buzz getting back to me is that they do not have the money. And that whatever “investors” they may have possibly lined up are getting squirrel-y because the CE’s office won’t commit County funds to any of the extensive Capital Improvements to buildings and infrastructure. The COUNTY is going to be responsible for paying these costs whether Standard comes in or not – this is the concern I raised last Spring. I’ve been saying it for over six months. I’ve asked for a breakdown repeatedly of EXACTLY what Standard’s $25 million would cover, because I know that the Park needs well over $50 million in cap projects, quite possibly closer to $75 million, maybe more if you want a full, true “restoration” of the Park. And it has been said repeatedly by Standard that their take is, the County is property owner and Landlord, so they are not going to pay for the big stuff. No one has been able to pin Standard down on what their “investment” will cover, but mostly it’s going to be new signage, some paint and cosmetics. Not any of the big ticket major stuff that needs doing thanks to decades of deferred maintenance -the worst of which has been under Rob Astorino. Standard is not prepared in any way shape or form to come in and start running Playland in the Spring. They should just walk away. They are essentially a non-existent company with no managerial staff or resources, and this is biting off more than they can chew. The CE went ahead and granted them the requested extension without any BOL approval or input, essentially bypassing – yet again – the public’s representatives in his decision. Because, that’s just how he rolls. When Standard told everyone that they were not ready to sign on the dotted line on the scheduled date of 10/31/15, that should have been the end of it. The granting of this extension and that fact that it is “needed” is the deplorable part of this story. This has been a terrible deal for the County taxpayers from Day One. It was NEVER structured to relieve the County of the Debt Service that will be on-going and it was never going to cover the most expensive things that need to be done at the Park. In the meantime, the County continues to bond out millions of dollars for capital improvements at other parks (the CE’s pet favorite is Kensico Dam Plaza – check out how much they and the County Center get!). They tried to submit a request recently for $4 million for restoration of a reflecting pool at Kensico. Just on Monday night they wanted over $1.2 million for an information board at the County Center. But I can’t get them to plant a single tree at Playland. It’s a disgrace. The County will approve to bond out millions for the maintenance and upkeep of other parks, Playland gets NOTHING. Meanwhile, attendance this summer was at close to 600k people and gross revenue just from attendance was well over $10 million – almost a million over Playland’s projected operating budget for 2015. When the numbers have all been reconciled, all of us watching closely know that not only did that Park cover all of its own operating expenses this year when it’s not even being run at capacity, it very likely turned a profit, possibly of over $1 million. If Standard comes in we’ll get $300k A YEAR in rent. Playland brought more than that in every single weekend this summer. This is possibly the WORST financial deal anyone has ever tried to get the County into, and it needs to be taken out to the field and shot. IMMEDIATELY. So, while what Jenkins is saying here at first glance does seem nutty, it’s not. It’s actually spot on. What’s nutty is that we are even still entertaining any of this privatization crap almost six years down the road from its inception after all the bungling that has gone on. RE-INVEST in Playland, don’t ‘RE-INVENT” it. I will be putting a detailed explanation of what happened this week together, along with a tutorial on who/what Standard Amusements is this weekend when I have some free time. Look for it on Rye Patch Sunday or Monday.

  3. If you want to follow this mess in “real time” you can log onto Facebook and “like” the ‘Friends Of Playland” page….we try to keep things updated there as best we can. It often changes fast….we also have Twitter! @frenzofplayland

  4. I’m not clear where this line/info comes from, but I can assure you it is most definitely not accurate:

    “The Board of Legislators approved a management agreement with Standard Amusements in June of this year that included a public investment in capital projects to match the private investment put in by Standard.”

    There is absolutely NOTHING in the agreement committing to any investment by the County. So..no, that was NOT “included” in any agreement. Legislators let themselves be pushed into passing this without adequate vetting by the arbitrary June 15th deadline the CE set in April. They were all getting ready to go on family vacations over the summer after kids got out of school the following week, they all knew it would be impossible to get anything done before Labor Day because trying to get quorums for meetings when half of them are gone at any give time was impossible, then as soon as Labor Day was over they were all going to be campaigning because all 17 of them are up for re-election this year, then after Election Day it’s right into crazy Budget Season, they were sick of talking about Playland, sick of having meetings about Playland and just wanted it off their plates. And I couldn’t get them to listen to me. I was beating this drum back in June, screaming about them approving this deal for exactly this reason, and many more. But pass it they did, all 17 by unanimous vote. So, to make themselves feel better and scrambling to find a way to justify voting for it, they crafted some useless “MOU’s” that even their County Atty’s sat there and told them – more than once – (and I know, because I was in the meetings)were not legally binding and may or may not ever be enforceable because the CONTRACT ITSELF was not changed. Those MOU’s were all just for show. Somewhere in one of the three MOU’s was a “hope” shall we call it, that the County would hold up what SHOULD be their end of the bargain but which was never stipulated in the contract – to handle all the big repairs that need to be done to the Park. This agreement has never “included a public investment in capital projects to match the private investment put in by Standard.” – and that’s the whole problem right now. I sat in a meeting and watched Plunkett spend over a half hour dodging making a single statement about one single cap project that needs to be done down there. And…here we are today. Big surprise.

  5. I can also shed some light on that very last paragraph/quote from Ken Jenkins. I’ve had enough conversations with him now that I think I can translate “Ken-Speak”. What he’s getting at here is the folly that the CE’s office has always known all along that the County was going to be responsible for the biggest chunk of the money for fixing the Park. The BOL has approved funding already for many of the projects that need to be done, but that only goes so far. Once they approve it (and my recollection is most of those requests were sent down by his predecessor and funding approved before he came into office and they continue to sit undone and as essentially open tickets for projects on the docket), the process is that it all goes back to the CE’s office for release. If he doesn’t authorize releasing the funds after the BOL approves them and he doesn’t allow the Parks Dept. and DPW to SPEND the money that was approved…the projects never get done. Even thought the Legislators have said, “Yes, it needs to be done, we will agree to pay for this”, he has final approval over whether or not it goes ahead and gets done. Since he came into office, Astorino has steadfastly refused to approve anything that was on the table and slated to be done when he came in, and he hasn’t submitted requests on his on for work to be done at Playland. All necessary projects have been completely stalled for almost SIX YEARS now, as things continue to deteriorate and the costs to fix them climb due to inflation. It all came to a grinding halt at Playland when he took office, while he poured money into Parks facilities he personally likes better. And for almost six straight years now, the excuse his office has given has been that we can’t spend any money at Playland “because we don’t know what’s happening next year”. Which is a load of bunk. You own it NOW. You take care of it NOW. You will ALWAYS OWN IT. These capital improvements projects were ALWAYS going to be the County’s financial responsibility. Whether a private management company comes in to run the place or not. So the most LUDICROUS aspect of this whole thing is…the CE is willing to spend the millions on cap projects now that SOMEONE ELSE is going to make a profit off a restored park?? The County has been wearing the Ruby Slippers all along. All they had to do was click their heels together. If you can spend it NOW….why weren’t you ever willing to spend it in the PAST? It makes absolutely NO SENSE. What Ken J. is saying in that last paragraph is, it’s not an “inability” to help Playland financially, the ability has been there all along, it’s simply a REFUSAL on the part of our current CE. And this is going to finally show that. Playland is an incredibly valuable County owned asset. People in Westchester should be SCREAMING about how Rob Astorino is intentionally running it into the ground to fit his “narrative”. Ken Jenkins is admittedly sometimes hard to follow, but if you know what’s going on and you can dissect what he’s saying…it actually does make sense.

  6. One more comment here…this headline is grossly mis-leading. The DEMS are not the ones who sought this extension. It was the REPUBLICAN COUNTY EXECUTIVE. The Democratic Caucus was trying all day Monday to draft a Resolution stipulating that they would only approve the extension if there was language included ensuring that if the extension results in any changes to the CONTRACT that they would have to approve those changes, just as they had to approve the original contract. My understanding of what happened on Monday 10/19/15 – and this has come to me personally from both a REPUBLICAN Legislator and Democratic Legislators – is that they all spent Monday trying to get wording on a document so that they could vote to approve the extension at their regularly scheduled 7pm BOL meeting on Monday night, WITH an inclusion in the resolution they’d be voting on (they have to vote on a piece of legislation before them of some sort) that they still maintain oversight and approval powers over any contract changes. Apparently, there is a window of time within which things can be added to the agenda prior to the meetings, something around two hours. So…if it wasn’t already on the agenda – and it wasn’t because Plunkett dropped this curveball on them at 10am the day of the BOL meeting – they had something like up until two hours before start of meeting to have legislation/resolution drafted to be submitted and added to the Agenda for that night’s meeting. In essence: if they didn’t have it ready by 5PM, it couldn’t be added, and then there was nothing for them to vote on. The REPUBLICAN Legislator I spoke with on Monday night told me all this, and then explained that while all the Dems and several Republicans wanted this resolution drafted and passed with language in it protecting the BOL’s right to approve any new contract after changes that may result from the extension, certain Astorino-oriented Republicans purposely stalled the crafting of the document until far enough into the afternoon that they knew they had hit the window and it was too late to get it on the agenda. Nice, huh? So…there was nothing for the BOL to vote on Monday night. The Republican Legislator who filled me in on this at the Monday night BOL meeting – which I attended in person – also let me know that at the end of the day, it was all a moot point because Astorino had gone ahead and granted the extension all on his own with no input or approval or vote from the BOL. I asked incredulously how that could have happened, and the answer was that CE Astorino contends it’s within his rights to grant the extension all on his own. I asked if that was legal, and the REPUBLICAN Legislator wearily shrugged his shoulders and quietly said, ‘The County Attorney backed him up.” So…the BOL never had any control over the granting of this extension one way or another, Astorino knew that and he went ahead and pushed it through without them. They have no legal recourse and no control over it. Don’t blame the DEMS for this one, it’s all Astorino and his Megalomania.

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We can no longer follow this logic.

After Astorino delayed the "wedding date" with Standard Amusements earlier this week, the Democratic boss is extending the leash even further. He wants to give Standard Amusements until the end of 2016 to decide if they want to "walk down the aisle" with the county on Playland "now that they know the true condition of Playland’s dilapidated infrastructure".

Huh?

Can any rational person explain this? Do the politicians on both sides have some sort of concussion from riding the Dragon Coaster?

Here is the PR below. If you can make sense of this, please post an explanation in the comments.

"Jenkins Calls to Extend Playland Co-Management Agreement Until End of 2016

(White Plains, NY) – After the County Executive asked for an extension of the deadline to turn the management of Playland over to Standard Amusements, Legislator Ken Jenkins is calling for a more prudent and honest alternative of extending the co-management period through the end of 2016.

“The County Executive’s need for an extension on this period only proves that he wasn’t up front about the condition of the park in the first place,” Jenkins stated. “The County Executive negotiated this deal in secret after wasting $100,000 of taxpayers money on a report that told him the park needed a lot of work and yet he continued to be unwilling to make the necessary investments in Playland.”

The Board of Legislators approved a management agreement with Standard Amusements in June of this year that included a public investment in capital projects to match the private investment put in by Standard.

“Extending the deadline to March 31st does nothing for anyone,” Jenkins continued. “The whole point of this deal was to get the costs of operating Playland off the county’s books and by extending the deal at all, the County Executive is admitting failure at that objective. If it is going to be on our books for the coming year, we should give Standard Amusements an honest shot at success now that they know the true condition of Playland’s dilapidated infrastructure.”

With the County getting ready to enter its budget process for the next fiscal year facing a deficit of over $56 million, the ability to remove costs from the budget very quickly was a strong selling point of entering into this agreement. As a result, Jenkins believes that the capital projects that the county is going to undertake must be a part of the 2016 budget plan, approved by the Board of Legislators.

“Including these capital projects in the public budget process this year and extending the co-management period to run through the entire fiscal year will hold this administration’s feet to the fire to be truthful about what Playland needs are. Any further inability to revitalize Playland after that period would only be a result of lack of interest in the first place,” Jenkins concluded."