Following a Board of Legislators public information session on four proposals to assume management of Playland Park in Rye, a passionate Facebook group has created a petition to keep the park out of the hands of Sustainable Playland Inc. (SPI).
The group is opposed to SPI's plan to remove about 30 percent of the rides and use some of that space for a Great Lawn. On their Facebook page, they also claim that SPI’s plan would not maintain and restore the park’s historical components and landmarks and would scale the amusement park portion of the area down by 50 percent. SPI officials say the petitioners are misinformed and that historic preservation and restoration and maintaining the amusement portion as the “most significant part of the park” are the cornerstones of the SPI approach.
Within the first week that the online petition was created, the group collected about 800 signatures from locals as well as from people around the country – each signatory posts his city and state under his name.
The petition reads:
Signatories are opposed to the proposal of Sustainable Playland Incorporated (SPI) as said proposal stood as of February 20, 2013. SPI plans to remove 30% of the rides and reduce the footprint size of amusement park by over 50%. We believe that decreasing the size of the amusement park and removing rides will drastically reduce the number of paying users of Playland.
Geoff Thompson, the SPI spokesman, says he does not think that signatories on the petition understand the SPI plan.
“They may not fully understand what the Sustainable approach is and we would hope that if they really give it a careful look they would understand our approach and see the value in it,” Thompson said. “We cannot overemphasize our commitment to amusement component and to the historic integrity of the park… We have no intention of destroying the amusement park.”
Thompson added that the Westchester Historical Society supports the SPI plan. He also confirmed that the SPI plan does intend to remove about 30 percent of the rides, mostly thrill rides, and other rides may be removed and replaced with new ones. The “footprint” of the amusement park would decrease by at most 33 percent, Thompson said, not 50 percent, as the petitioners claim.
SPIs plan would use some of the amusement park section for a Great Lawn. They also propose other “zones,” which would each be run by their own operators: field houses, an aqua zone, event and restaurant space and the ice rink.
The petitioners favor two other Playland proposals over SPI’s, Standard Amusement and Central Amusements. Both plans are more centrally focused on the amusement park. Central would add 22 new rides within the first five years, offer free admission, interactive rides, a water playground, adventure golf and a children’s entertainment center. Standard would offer traditional games, three new rides, a water park, an enhanced focus on safety and security. They would also add four play fields in the back parking lot.
You can read more about each plan, and find their full proposals here.
County Executive Rob Astorino selected SPI as the group to revitalize Playland in October 2012, but the Board of Legislators have argued they need to be involved in that decision. Earlier this week, County Attorney Robert F. Meehan ruled that while Astorino can sign a management agreement with SPI, the Board would need to approve the major changes to the park included in the SPI plan.