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Westchester Legislators Visit Coney Island To Get Playland Ideas

From left, County Legislator Bill Ryan, CAI President Valerio Ferrari, Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins,  
Legislator Judy Myers and Legislator Alfreda Williams.
From left, County Legislator Bill Ryan, CAI President Valerio Ferrari, Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins, Legislator Judy Myers and Legislator Alfreda Williams. Photo Credit: Westchester County Board of Legislators / Eric Lewis

RYE, N.Y. -- Westchester County legislators hoping to refurbish Playland Amusement Park in Rye and keep it thriving recently visited Coney Island in Brooklyn, one of the longest-lasting amusement parks in the world, to get some ideas: .

County Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins, Legislators Judy Myers, Bill Ryan and Alfreda Williams met with executives from Central Amusements International at Coney Island’s Luna Park to learn more about the firm’s amusement business.

In July, County Executive Rob Astorino announced that CAI, one of the finalists in the Playland revitalization process, would be in charge of the Amusement Zone under the auspices of the management agreement with Sustainable Playland, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded by several Rye residents to run Playland.

CAI works with two 85-year old family firms based in Italy, Zamperla, Inc. and Antonio Zamperla S.P.A., and now operates Victorian Gardens at Wollman Rink in Central Park and Leolandia in Italy, as well as Luna Park.

The county board's Government Operations Committee, chaired by Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) is still reviewing the four finalists wanting to revitalize Playland, and a financial audit of the finalists is forthcoming this week.

“The Playland proposals deserve the utmost scrutiny from the Board of Legislators before one is officially sanctioned and approved,” Borgia said in a statement. “The County’s parks, including Playland, are dynamic resources that represent generations of taxpayer investments. They have provided decades of enjoyment for residents, and their future potential is immense. Public-private partnerships can offer mutual benefits to the parties involved, but the numbers have to be carefully scrutinized to make sure there is no risk to our taxpayers."

The county board members learned that CAI has a ten-year lease with the City of New York to run Luna Park at Coney Island — there is no management agreement between Mayor Michael Bloomberg and CAI. Also, CAI has a licensing agreement with the City of New York to run the famous Cyclone roller coaster, which is owned by the city.

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