A survey of local elected officials shows a mixed reaction to last Tuesday’s news from the Westchester Parks Foundation that the new agreement between Westchester County and Standard Amusements on Rye Playland may constitute “alienation” of dedicated parkland. The Foundation is concerned the 30 year lease between the parties effectively represents privatization of public parkland and needs certain additional protections in order to prevent a “dangerous precedent”.
“I have been concerned about Playland issues for years and am reviewing the settlement agreement,” State Assemblyman and Rye resident Steve Otis told MyRye.com. “I remain committed to making sure that the needs of those throughout Westchester who enjoy the park are protected. I will also review the issues raised today by the Westchester Parks Foundation.”
In contrast, County Legislator and Rye resident Catherine Park sees the issue as already addressed by two County administrations, but promises to get the County’s attorney on the record with the County’s view on alienation. “While I appreciate their [Westchester Parks Foundation] concerns regarding the recently announced proposed amendments to the management agreement between Westchester County and Standard Amusements, I regard the issue of alienation as one that has been thoroughly researched by both the County Attorney for the previous Astorino Administration and the current Latimer administration,” Parker told MyRye.com. “Interestingly, regardless of partisan politics both agree a management agreement would not trigger alienation.”
“Since the announcement of new terms, my colleagues and I at the Board of Legislators have planned for a thorough review process of the proposed changes to the management agreement when we receive the amended document from the administration. While I will question the County Attorney during those open meetings and ask for his opinion on alienation to be put on the record, I will also be asking many other questions to insure that Westchester County residents and taxpayers will see real benefit from moving forward with Standard Amusements,” Parker concluded.
And at the local municipal level, Rye Mayor Josh Cohn referred to the alienation issue as “an almost academic legal question” saying “It will be interesting to see if what is stated as an almost academic legal question will really be the opening of a succession of new substantive challenges to the settlement between the County and Playland. I hope for an ultimate outcome that preserves Playland as an important, valued and constructive member of our community.”
There has been no comment from the County administration or Standard Amusements on the alienation concern raised by the Westchester Parks Foundation. That may be because in the term sheet governing the recent Playland settlement between the two parties there is a Non-Disparagement Clause. This often causes folks to use a civil tone and keep most conversations quiet until there is a joint agreement or message to be shared.
What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.