WPCNR PLAYLAND GO-ROUND. From the Westchester County Board of Legislators. April 12, 2021:
The Board of Legislators, by a vote of 13-4, approved a bankruptcy court settlement with Standard Amusements regarding the management of Playland.
The settlement was negotiated by the County and Standard, the terms of which were previously approved by the bankruptcy court.
The agreement gives the County significantly improved terms compared with the 2016 agreement, which had become the subject of the dispute in Standard’s bankruptcy reorganization filing.
Under the settlement, Standard will invest millions more in rides and food and other improvements at Playland than under the 2016 agreement. (Editor’s Note: The County will invest approximately $120 Million in restoration of Playland infrastructure: the collonades, swimming pool, bathouse, upgrades to operating systems, more than double the County’s original Standard-County deal, rejected by the present administration as not paying the county enough of the profits.)
The settlement also gives the County significant new oversight over Standard’s operation of the park — controls that were not in the 2016 agreement. These new oversight powers include the power to review and approve Standard’s construction plans, approval of new rides, new and more specific financial reporting requirements for Standard, and County approval of an annual operating plan for the park, among others.
The settlement contains new terms under which Standard can assign the contract to another company.
The County will now have the ability to object to an assignment, and there are new requirements that any company that might take on the contract must have years of amusement park management experience and demonstrated financial wherewithal.
There are also improved financial terms for the County. Under the 2016 agreement, the County shared only in Standard’s net profit and only after Standard recouped its capital investment. Under the settlement, the County will be paid from the beginning out of gross revenue over $12 million. The County also will receive an annual fee starting at $300,000 in 2022, increasing to $400,000 in 2023 with annual adjustments thereafter.
In addition, under the settlement, if Standard fails to generate at least $12 million in gross revenue per year for four straight years, the County may terminate the contract.
The settlement also heads off expensive litigation in the future by hiring a commercial arbitrator, to be agreed to and paid for by both parties, to resolve disputes.
The settlement preserves crucial protections for workers. Any County workers at Playland now, not hired by Standard, or who do not want to work for Standard, will continue to be employed elsewhere by the Parks Department. Standard is committing to continuing to hire a diverse slate of young seasonal workers during the summer as well as older workers.
Chairman Ben Boykin (D- White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison) said,
“The choice we faced in this vote was not between our theoretical best agreement or no agreement at all. Our choice was between voting to approve this settlement, or voting not to approve this settlement and allowing Standard to assume the original contract in bankruptcy court. In approving this settlement, we are voting to give the County much better financial terms, more oversight over Standard’s work and operations at Playland, and more outside investment from Standard in this park which is a jewel in the crown of our Parks Department. Thanks are due to County Attorney John Nonna and his staff, our outside attorneys, Parks Department Commissioner Kathy O’Connor and First Deputy Commissioner Peter Tartaglia, and the chairs of our committees, especially Law and Major Contracts Chair Nancy Barr, and Budget and Appropriations Chair Catherine Borgia for their outstanding work in getting us to this improved place for County taxpayers and residents.”