RYE, N.Y. -- The Westchester Children's Museum took a step closer to becoming a reality this week after the county approved a lease agreement for the space at the renovated bathhouse at Rye Playland.
The agreement was unanimously approved by the county's Board of Acquisition and Contract. The Children's Museum is set to open within the next two years.
“This is an important step forward,” said County Executive Rob Astorino. “I have always supported the concept of a Children’s Museum at Playland, and now we have the framework for it to be integrated into our overall vision for reinventing Playland by saving the traditions and creating new year-round attractions.”
Astorino recently signed a deal with Sustainable Playland Inc. to take over management and operations of Rye Playland. The plan still has to be approved by the county Board of Legislators, and would include renovations and new attractions at the theme park. The museum will operate under the management of SPI, but will be a separate vendor. The museum will cooperate with SPI as it seeks approval from the Board of Legislators for its Playland Improvement Plan.
The Board of Legislators approved a lease for the Children's Museum in 2011, but that lease was vetoed by Astorino because a plan was not in place for the redevelopment of the park. Democratic members of the board gathered at Rye Playland in May and called on Astorino to move forward with the plans for the museum.
"We are very happy to see this moving forward," said Tracy Kay, executive director of the Children's Museum, after the approval of the lease Thursday.
The ten-year lease would allow the museum to occupy about half of the former men's bathhouse, which was built in 1928. In exchange for a $1 per year rent, the museum will spend around $6.5 million on internal and external renovations to the building, as well as around $3 million on exhibits. The museum has raised about $8 million for the project, and will seek the rest through fundraising efforts.
The next step for the project is the formal signing of agreements between the county, the museum and SPI, which will take place later this month.
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