Playland two months ago: North Broadwalk Repairs of Hurricane Sandy Damage (Sustained in 2013) finally got underway this past fall. The takeover of the park by Standard Amusements is being delayed past December 31 over a City of Rye Appeal of a court ruling that threw out The City of Rye contention it should have final approval of any changes to the park the developer wants to make. The repair to the North Broadwalk is still not complete.
WPCNR PLAYLAND-GO-ROUND. By John F. Bailey December 28, 2017:
There will be no closure and no multi-million dollar check from Standard Amusements accepting the lease management deal to manage and makeover Playland this weekend, or sometime to come.
Standard Amusements had been given until December 31 by Westchester to submit the first payment of $750,000 eventually to be $2.250 Million (as stated last April) to begin their 30 year lease on the Playland property. Standard is supposed to invest $27,250,000 in the park rides and improvements. The county was supposed to invest $30 Million in infrastructure, but this was upped in the fall to approximately $50 Million without explicit details explained.
The head lawyer for the City of Rye told WPCNR this will not happen because the city of Rye has appealed the decision throwing out the Rye lawsuit in August of this year.
Kristen Wilson, Corporation Counsel for the City of Rye Thursday told WPCNR the city had appealed the judge’s ruling in the suit Rye filed protesting the county right to approve all developments and changes to the park (by any lease/manager) without the City of Rye “final right of approval.”
Asked if the Appellate Court might expedite the hearing date for the Rye appeal, Wilson said the appellate court does not routinely take cases in the order in which they are filed, but usually it can take up to a year for an appeal to come to a hearing before the court.
Asked if the Appellate Court could choose not to hear the case, Wilson said “you are automatically given the right to appeal in New York State, and you must be granted a hearing. Only the New York State Court of Appeals chooses which cases appealed from the Appellate Court that they will hear.
“The city (of Rye) has perfected its appeal and submitted it to the Appellate Court, Second Circuit. The County and Standard Amusements have not submitted their responses (to the Rye appeal). Their (the county and Standard) responses are due in the middle of January.”
Asked if the new Mayor-elect of Rye might withdraw the suit, Ms. Wilson said she was not aware of the new Mayor’s position, but withdrawal or continuation of the appeal was up to him.
That is because the City of Rye has appealed the court ruling in August, throwing out the City of Rye suit claiming that Rye should have final right of approval of what is built and designed on the county-owned national landmark amusement park, in operation since 1929
In his last three days as County Executive, Robert Astorino’s solution for stopping the annual $3-4 Million debt service of Playland (through leasing it out to private management) has failed.
As early as last month, Mr. Astorino had assured that everything was on track for Standard Amusements coming on board with their payment by the end of the year.
Repeated rejections by the County Legislature of Mr. Astorino’s proposals to lease the park, first by the New York City High Line connected group, Sustainable Playland, Astorino’s selection that the County Legislature rejected due to lack of contractors in place ready to fix the park, and what the legislature judged was a lack of financing.
Then came the request for other proposals, which resulted in Standard Amusements being selected by Mr. Astorino as the best group. After the legislature O.K.’s a tentative deal with Standard, discussions with Standard Amusements developed over who would pay for structural repair of the park infrastructure, especially the deteriorating colonnades and the swimming pool, and addition of amenities.
In the current state of the agreement the county has agreed to pay for $60 Million of improvements on the infrastructure (double the county’s original commitment), and Standard Amusements $30 Million of improvements on the park (including new rides, restaurants, new outbuildings).
The county, by the way has already spent approximately $8 Million on the Children’s Museum on the Boardwalk there, and has not been reimbursed for that as was originally promised in the Children’s museum agreement. The Children’s Museum is open but without the extent of exhibits it has promised. The Children’s Museum was a project highly touted and approved by the County Legislature previously in the Andrew Spano administration.
Since a resolution of the legal challenge from Rye, (where County Executive-elect George Latimer lives), is a long way from being settled due to the Rye appeal, (unless the new Mayor of Rye withdraws the appeal, giving the right of final approval to the county), the deal may undergo another analysis by County Executive-elect Latimer and the new County Board of Legislators.
It is worth noting that Mr. Astorino’s efforts to wipe way Playland debt by getting a private leaser to improve the park and increase county revenue has instead ballooned county Playland debt approximately by $60 Million.
When the appeal is granted or denied, you know it will be appealed to the higher Court of Appeals so this may give the County Legislature and the new County Executive George Latimer two years to tinker with Standard Amusements on the deal, or not.