New Playland To Bring Thousands of Jobs to Rye

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Playland Amusement Park in Rye will undergo a $34 million overhaul in the coming months and years, and is expected to bring thousands of jobs.
Playland Amusement Park in Rye will undergo a $34 million overhaul in the coming months and years, and is expected to bring thousands of jobs. Photo Credit: Anna Helhoski

RYE, N.Y. – A proposed project to renovate Playland Amusement Park in Rye would bring thousands of new jobs to the area, according to Sustainable Playland President Dhruv Narain.

“All the operations here are going to have jobs,” Narain said. “We think they’re going to be better jobs. We think they’re going to be careers for people, and we have some other ideas, too. We will continue to employ on a seasonal basis.”

Though there is no precise number, Narain said, thousands of jobs would be created for year-round operations at the new park.

During an announcement of the project Thursday morning at Playland, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino added, “Hundreds of jobs will be created from the construction of the $34 million of capital improvements as well.”

Construction is expected to begin by the end of 90-day contract negotiations for Sustainable Playland to take on renovations and operations of the park for 10 years.

In 2010, Astorino began a formal search for ideas to address chronic losses of $3 million to $5 million a year due to falling popularity of the historic park. A committee of 19 citizens and the county reviewed 12 proposals and chose Sustainable Playland because it had “the best vision for the park financially and operationally, as well as far-reaching experience and strong local ties,” Astorino said.

The overseer of overall operations will be Biederman Redevelopment Ventures, headed by Dan Biederman, a Chappaqua resident who is responsible for renovating operations of Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan. Biederman said that when he began working at Bryant Park, he had three employees, and Bryant Park now employs a thousand through its seasonal ice rink, day-to-day operations and restaurants.

“We envision this as a huge job creator,” Biederman said. “... A lot of these jobs will go to county residents.”

In the coming months, stakeholders including the Westchester County Board of Legislators, the City of Rye, the Town of Rye and the county Parks Board will make all the necessary approvals on the project, Astorino said.

“Playland Park gets back to its roots,” Astorino said. “It’s family-oriented; it’s a civic-commercial partnership with a vision for the 21st century; it protects the taxpayers; it creates new jobs, good jobs, short-term construction, long-term careers, summer jobs … and it certainly preserves the tradition of Playland. The Dragon Coaster will continue to breathe its fire for many, many years to come.”

For more information on the proposed changes to Playland, click here.

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Comments (2)

Really? Thousands? Plural?

I really love what’s been done with Bryant Park. Didn’t like the disruption of the Fashion Weeks, but accepted it as a source of income to keep things nice the rest of the year. I never imagined though, that there were a thousand people working there, even including the kiosks and restaurant.

Playland already employs X number of seasonal employees during the peak summer months. Under the new plan, the number employed in the amusement park will presumably decrease with the elimination of many of the rides. The mini water park will surely take up some (but not all) of that slack. That leaves the new ballfields and fieldhouse, plus the existing ice casino operation to staff. Add to that the new restaurants. Assume a staff of 8 to manage the ballfields. Add 200 to manage and staff the fieldhouse with it’s myriad activities. That would leave approximately 700 new jobs in the restaurants and any other activities not previously disclosed. Considering the totally seasonal nature of the Tiki Bar to date, the feasibility of having 700 new restaurant jobs year-around seems optimistic and unlikely. Such a claim casts severe doubts on the credibility of the Sustainable Rye team. I want to believe, but such grandiose claims make it difficult to visualize a successful outcome to their plans.

Given the existing debt service the County has to meet, I would like to see a side-by-side comparison of the present operations vs. the proposed deal. With a annual payment of only $1.1 million under the Sustainable proposal, it sounds like the County would have a built-in shortfall in servicing the existing debt. It just may be that the best thing to do is continue to operate things as is, until the current debt is retired.

The Playland articles need to have graphics showing where the planned changes to the park will actually be situated and how it's projected to look when completed. We also need information about planned construction schedules. I don't recall any mention of parking fees. I trust this information with lots of specifics was been submitted to the County and other interested parties before such a large amount of capital was dedicated to the project. Why not show it to us?