RYE, N.Y. -- Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino believes that Sustainable Playland Inc.'s plan to renovate Playland Amusment Park in Rye will ultimately help the county.
"The core of what sustainable wants to do is what I'm on board with," Astorino said during a meeting last week with The Daily Voice. "It's about reinventing Playland for the 21st Century and bringing the park back to the vitality it once had."
Sustainable Playland submitted its Playland Improvement Plan to Astorino's office earlier in September. Once Astorino approves the plan, it will move on to the Westchester Board of Legislators for consideration.
Astorino, who is running for his second term, cited the falling attendance at the park as a reason that changes need to be made. In 2005, the attendance was at about 1 million, he said. Last year it was 430,000. This is costing Westchester taxpayers between $3 million and $5 million per year, Astorino said.
"The park is bleeding money," he said. "There's never been a real effort to fix it other than some patches. We want to change Playland in order to keep the things we love about Playland."
The $34-million renovation includes dividing the park into six different zones, including the Amusement Zone with the rides and Kiddyland, a Beach and Aqua Zone, a Field Zone, and a Fountain Plaza Zone with restaurants.
Another major component of the renovation includes keeping the park open all year, instead of just during the summer. Astorino said that one of the reasons the park loses money is because whenever there's a rainy day during the summer, nobody comes.
"That model of praying for good weather is not a good business model. But having year-round income is," he said. "Every generation of a family can come on the same day and have fun. The fences would come down and it would be pay as you go. I think this would be a model that works."
Some groups and legislators have taken issue with the plan, and think that it would ultimately hurt the park. Astorino acknowledged that the issue has been "a political football," but said that it was ultimately good for the park and the county.
"No more politics. Let's get out of that business and let the professional run it," he said. "I'm excited about this, I want to see it through. I think it will bring back a lot of vitality to a tired and old park."
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