We've said this before… it seems close to impossible to figure out what is really happening or might happen to Rye Playland. The cherished park has become a political pinata in a never ending, disparate process where officials seemingly in charge but often not proclaim the life, death and suspension of initiatives, efforts, budgets and so on.
How could all of us not be confused?
The county owns Rye Playland and there are separate processes for the the amusement park, Read Sanctuary, the Children's museum, the pool (falling apart) and who knows what else… Then there is adjacent Rye Town Park, run by the town and not the city of Rye. Rye Town is mostly history – a shell of a government bureaucracy that runs a couple parks and some cemeteries (we see dead people…). Rye Town is now considering five options for outsourcing the management of the park.
Mostly missing? The voice of Rye City, all of us…
So the latest twist (if it is a twist) is Rye's Catherine Parker (a Westchester level pol) is saying she, as part of the Board of Legislators, will vote against the Standard Amusements deal… her diatribe is below.
Our biggest questions:
Does anyone think about this in a holistic way?
Does Rye City have real, true representation and voice in the "re-invention" of Playland or the Town Park?
Are the public resources that need to be run more responsibly (and with better restaurants, I mean, come on…) or profit generating private entities?
Post your comments below…
Here is Parker:
As you may know, as the deal stands today:
- It is still for a 30 year term
- The fee is still set at $300,000, increasing 2% annually
- The capital projects for the taxpayer to fund is now $32 million dollars, down from the proposed $58 million given to the Board of Legislators by the County Executive
- The profit share after Standard recoups their own $27 million dollar investment is:
- 8% for years 1-10
- 10% for years 11-20
- 12% for years 21-30
When I asked Standard during the committee meeting what the estimate for their profit would be during those first ten years, their answer couldn't have been clearer –they don't expect to see a profit. As to the next twenty years, and Standard's expectations, they seem hopeful, but far from reassuring that we should expect any significant dollars from a profit share to offset our investment.
The debt service will cost the taxpayers annually $2.8 million dollars, and yet we will still not have completely restored the historic architecture, for instance, the colonnades are no longer included. The swimming pool is in terrible shape. It needs approximately $10 million to rebuild or $2 million to take it down. Strangely, that decision will be made months after we are supposed to vote for this deal, but the cost and consequence to you will be discussed at another time. In other words, there is much more infrastructure work to be done, and I fear it is at your expense. Frankly, I don't understand some of my colleagues of both parties who know that these decisions are important to the big picture of this deal, but seem hellbent on rushing to vote.
As it stands today, I will not be voting in favor of this agreement between Westchester County and Standard Amusements if the vote is taken May 2, 2016.
I would like to hear your thoughts whether you agree or disagree with me….
On Tuesday, April 26th, I am holding a public hearing at Rye City Hall at 7PM. For both hearings, speakers will get 3 minutes to be heard.