FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 16, 2013
Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-419-5221 (cell)
Democratic Westchester Legislators
Call on Astorino to Hand Playland Keys
Over to Westchester Children’s Museum
Rye, NY – Several Democratic caucus members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) called today on County Executive Rob Astorino to hand over the keys for the North Bathhouse at Playland to Westchester Children’s Museum officials so work can begin immediately and allow the much-awaited attraction to open by 2014.
“This wonderful museum will help transform Playland into a year-round destination,” said Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont), chair of the BOL Budget & Appropriations Committee, at a press conference here at Playland. “The Westchester Children’s Museum is ready to move in to bathhouse and start all of the necessary work. It’s time for the Astorino Administration to follow the law—unshackle the Museum and let them begin building, bring in jobs, and bring in revenue!”
At the recent fundraising gala held for the Westchester Children’s Museum, Astorino remarked that he was finally ready to fully back the effort for the new museum, after nearly four years of withholding his public support, but that he still feels work on the museum should wait until Sustainable Playland, Inc. (SPI) takes over management of the park in the fall. The BOL will have to approve any changes at Playland.
Legislator Bill Ryan noted that the BOL unanimously approved and signed a ten-year lease agreement with officials from the Children’s Museum last October. Under the terms of the lease, the museum will occupy about half, or approximately 21,390 square feet, of the former men’s bathhouse on the Playland boardwalk and spend $6,441,300 in interior and exterior renovations in exchange for a yearly rent of one dollar ($1). The museum also plans to spend another $3 million for a wide range of exhibits.
“Frankly, the Children’s Museum should have already been in there and nearing completion of its renovations,” said Ryan. “There is overwhelming support from the public for this museum. It is beyond comprehension why the Administration would stall a popular project that has the added benefits of creating new jobs and adding year-round revenues to the County’s coffers.”
The bathhouse was constructed in 1928, but use of its north and south wings has been discontinued for many years because of decreased patron demand. Under the lease agreement, the Westchester Children’s Museum will be responsible for making capital improvements to the building, all of which will be subject to approval of the Westchester Department of County Parks, Recreation and Conservation, along with the Department of Public Works because of the Playland’s National Historic Landmark designation.
“The Board of Legislators has been behind the Westchester Children’s Museum from its inception because it stands as a superb example of public-private partnerships that can help shrink government spending,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), chair of the BOL Government Operations Committee. “I’m hopeful that County Executive Astorino will have a change of heart and allow work to begin on the museum right away.”
Borgia reminded those present at the press conference that the Westchester Children’s Museum has two years to open its doors—once it receives keys to the bathhouse—or the lease is nullified.
According to its website, the Westchester Children’s Museum will be “a vibrant, interactive learning space providing children, families and school groups the opportunity to nurture curiosity, enhance knowledge and ignite imagination through creative hands-on exploration.”
“It’s time for the County Executive to stop delaying these investments in the Children’s Museum, which will result in hundreds of much-needed construction jobs,” said Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson). “The County spent nearly eight million of dollars on fixing the exterior of the bathhouse to ready it for re-use. That time has come. Give them the keys.”