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County Investigation Of Playland Management Contract IDs Multiple Problems

County Executive George Latimer joined other Westchester officials in detailing their investigation of problems with a private management contract with the manager of Playland Amusement Park in Rye.
County Executive George Latimer joined other Westchester officials in detailing their investigation of problems with a private management contract with the manager of Playland Amusement Park in Rye. Video Credit: Official Westchester Gov Videos
Harrison native Nicholas Singer, co-founder of Standard Amusements LLC, center, with former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino at Playland when a private management deal was announced three years ago. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

This story has been updated with a video link:

An investigation of a private contract to manage Playland Amusement Park in Rye has a multitude of conflicts and costly problems, Westchester County officials announced on Monday, May 7

Click here to watch a video of Monday's news conference in White Plains.

On the heels of public concern, and members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators calling on the county to revisit the Playland deal with Standard Amusements, Westchester County Executive George Latimer asked Director of Operations Joan McDonald and County Attorney John Nonna to examine the County’s agreement with Standard Amusements.

The report released on Monday details serious issues with the contract that will leave the County investing millions of dollars without seeing a significant return on investment, according to county spokeswoman Catherine Cioffi.

Latimer said: “This deal entered with Standard Amusements should have helped the County, it should have put the County in a better financial position than it currently is with Playland.

However, this poorly negotiated deal has this County footing the bills for improvements, salaries, fringe benefits and more. All of these financial issues are compounded by the County also not getting a fair share of what revenue is generated.

We must do what is best for County taxpayers; we must have a deal that alleviates the burden on them while also preserves and grows this historic and nostalgic park. The County is prepared to sit-down with Standard Amusements and negotiate a more equitable public/private partnership that is more equitable to the county taxpayers.”

Issues Identified in the McDonald/Nonna Playland Report

  • The Astorino Administration privately allowed for five extensions on payments to Standard Amusements without the prior approval by the County Board of Legislators.
  • After the contract with Standard Amusements was approved by the County Board, the Astorino Administration amended the contract without Board of Legislators approval and changed a material element.
  • There was never a detailed assessment of the renovations needed to be done at Playland, the County now knows the Park realistically needs $125 million worth of renovations. That could cost the County $65 million to $95 million extra to complete.
  • About 30 county employees work at Playland and the Playland Beach and Pool – while the Standard Amusements agreement covers 100 percent of their salaries, only 30 percent of their fringe benefits are covered under the agreement.·-- The agreement only covers the County’s expense of $400,000 for County Police and Seasonal Park Rangers, but the cost of these services is $655,000. The County would have to cover the $255,000 shortfall.
  • The County is investing significantly more money than Standard Amusements, and does not appear to ever receive a corresponding benefit.
  • Standard Amusements has only paid $1 million to the County of initial payments it was required to make and still owes $ 1.25 million.
  • The Astorino Administration privately allowed for five extensions on payments to Standard Amusements without the prior approval by the County Board of Legislators.
  • The Astorino Administration made these changes without Board review and without Board approval.

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