FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 11, 2012
Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-815-4462 (cell)
Democratic Legislators to Analyze Playland Proposal, Urge Greater Transparency for Process
White Plains, NY – Democratic members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) are pleased that County Executive Robert P. Astorino has finally unveiled his proposal for revitalizing Playland and now look forward to a close analysis and consideration of the new direction at Playland before approving any decisions that move the plan forward.
“Today, the Board of Legislators, as well as residents, got a general overview of a plan for Playland,” said BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers). “What must follow is a delivery of the proposal and all of its details to the Board for our review. It’s the Board of Legislators that will ultimately decide to approve any agreement after public discussion and public input.”
Astorino’s announcement that Sustainable Playland, Inc., a not-for-profit organization, has been recommended by the Administration to manage the 280-acre beach-front amusement park and recreation facility owned by Westchester County is just the beginning of a long process before any changes can be made, noted Jenkins.
A letter of intent was signed by Astorino with officials from Sustainable Playland, which has decided to partner with Biederman Redevelopment Ventures to re-design and manage the park beginning next year. Members of the public and elected legislators did not see any details regarding the proposal from the Administration for Playland. Presently, Playland costs about $2 annually per capita.
“The plan appears to address some of the major financial and operational issues that this county government has been wrestling with for more than a decade,” said Legislator Bill Ryan (D-White Plains). “But a decision of this magnitude regarding one of the County’s most important properties must be made jointly by the Executive and Legislature.”
“It’s better for our taxpayers when the Board of Legislators and County Executive work collaboratively,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining). “It’s unfortunate that the Board of Legislators was not brought into the process involving the decision that was announced today. Now that the proposal has been announced, the elected Legislature has the legal responsibility to a close look at the plan and have some questions answered.”
According to Astorino, the County will receive an initial $4 million payment from Sustainable Playland to run the park, with a $1.2 annual base fee to begin in 2014. Democratic legislators pointed out that the debt service for Playland stands at $3.6 million a year, which means taxpayers will still funding the debt even after Playland is “re-invented.”
“The plan asserts that Playland’s finances will improve, but county taxpayers need to be assured that they will realize a fair share under this new management arrangement,” said MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson). “Right now, we have nothing in hand to show this.”
“The Administration has been working on this proposal for over two years,” Jenkins stated. “It is unrealistic to think that the Board of Legislators will have completed its due diligence in two months.”
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