RYE, N.Y. -- Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announced a tentative deal with Standard Amusements LLC to operate Rye Playland for the next 15 to 30 years.
The new manager promised nearly $23 million in upgrades to the park in the next five years, a $2 million payment to the county and $300,000 annually. The county also would receive 7.5 percent of operating profits.
Astorino said the deal was signed Monday night with Harrison native Nicholas Singer, partner and co-founder of Standard Amusements, who spent his youth visiting the park and skating at the ice rink.
Astorino said Standard Amusements pledged to bring new rides, restore historic rides and improve choices at the food court beyond Nathan's hot dogs.
"We want to make sure the memory machine continues to chug along,'' Astorino said. "We'll make more money if they park is the best it can be."
Singer said he has partnered with United Parks LLC and its chief executive officer, Jack Falfas. Falfas is one of the amusement park industry’s most prominent executives, with 40 years of park operating experience.
“Rye Playland was a special part of my childhood, and I couldn’t be more excited to play a role in its future,” Singer said. “I’m proud that our longstanding vision to revitalize Playland has finally reached this stage and, given my discussions with members of the community. . . I am eager to restore the park to its original grandeur and to ensure its success for decades to come.”
Astorino said the county Board of Legislators has 60 days to approve the agreement. The park reopens on Saturday, May 9, and Standard Amusements would "co-manage" the park this summer and have the option to pull out of the deal in October, Astorino said.
Astorino previously signed an agreement with Sustainable Playland Inc. to manage the park, but the Rye-based group backed last year due to community opposition to its plan to construct an 82,500-square-foot field house on the grounds. Astorino said he still hopes Playland can still be used year-round including temporary conversion of parking lots to playing fields.
Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz, D-Somers, said the proposal "sounds like it has a lot of merit."
It received the endorsement of the Business Council of Westchester, but others worried about the fate of about 30 permanent Playland employees.
"That's a no-go for us,'' Deirdre Curran of Rye said of Astorino's promise of jobs somewhere within the county parks system if they are not hired by Standard Amusements.
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