Astorino Announces Initiative To Make Playland In Rye More Viable

With Sustainable Playland’s plans scrapped, a new team will be tasked with solidifying the park’s future.

Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino announced last week several actions designed to help Rye Playland increase both revenue and attendance, in part by making it a year-round destination.

Dan Biederman, a leader in privately funded urban and public space management who managed the restoration of Bryant Park in New York City, has been hired to give a review on the amusement park. This includes factors contributing to profits and losses and opportunities for sponsorships. In the fall, Biederman will present a list of recommendations on how best to secure Playland’s long-term future.

“The riddle for solving Playland is how do you make the park relevant in 2014 and still preserve its traditions and charms,” said Biederman in a county press release.

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The blueprint for the park designed by Sustainable Playland Inc. (SPI), which included plans for a large field house and other sports facilities, has been scrapped. SPI will continue to work with the county, but in a different role. The non-profit will now primarily be involved with fundraising, focusing on historic preservation and environmental conservation.

“While SPI’s role is evolving, its vision and commitment have not changed. We remain committed to a restoration and preservation plan that recognizes the park’s unique and historic characteristics,” said SPI President Kim Morque in a letter to supporters.

A new plan for Playland has been drawn, which includes a 10-year contract with American Skating Entertainment Centers (ASEC) to improve and manage the Ice Casino. ASEC is the largest independent owner and operator of ice rink facilities in the United States. Within the first 18 months of the contract, ASEC is expected to make $640,000 in capital improvements. These funds are in addition to the repairs that were needed after Hurricane Sandy, which cost around $4.5 million dollars.

The county Park’s department will continue to be responsible for Playland’s day-to-day operation, however this role may be reconsidered after Biederman’s recommendations later in the year. The county will also deal with the park’s current and potential new vendors and partners, while the plans SPI had made with operators will be withdrawn.

“We have made progress, and if we stay focused on finding ways to make the whole park more attractive to more people for more days out of the year, there is still time to find a formula that can secure the future of Playland,” said Astorino.

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