KEEP RYE PLAYLAND PUBLIC!
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(Editors Note: This petition was originally started in 2016 and as of May 2018 remains active/open and has been updated to reflect the change in personnel/recipients in Westchester County Government)
We the people of Westchester County, NY, and all other interested parties who have known, loved, visited, patronized and cherished Playand Amusement Park located in Rye, NY – 90 year old Playland being on the National Register of Historic Places and a registered United States National Historic Landmark - do petition Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins and the entire 17-member Westchester County Board of Legislators to do the following:
1) We ask that Westchester County immediately and completely abandon the current proposal to privatize management of this public park through a proposed contract with Standard Amusements/United Parks. Standard Amusements/United Parks has no discernable portfolio demonstrating any related experience in the Amusement Park industry and are not an appropriate choice for management of Playland. Further, the current contract in all its incarnations is highly financially lopsided in favor of the private entity over the Public who own the Park. We ask that the County does not proceed to sign a management contract with Standard Amusements or any other private entity for private management of – and private profit off of - this valued public amenity. The premise of the original 2010 RFP was to alleviate a mis-characterized "financial burden" Playland supposedly brought to County Taxpayers. The proposed contract with Standard in no way accomplishes this task, couldn't be farther from the originally stated mission and not only is of no financial benefit to Westchester Taxpayers but will see them investing tens of millions of dollars to restore the Park and then watch as a group of anonymous private hedge fund investors collect over 90% of the profits of a restored park leaving Taxpayers no way to recoup their own substantial monetary investment.
2) We ask that the Westchester County Executive’s office and the Westchester County BOL proceed forthwith to complete on behalf of Westchester County Taxpayers a full evaluation of the needed capital improvements projects at Playland and draft a comprehensive capital projects master plan for FULL restoration of this Park with ALL currently needed capital improvements projects identified and included on the list with no further deferment on any of them. Westchester residents expect and deserve to have County Leadership meet their obligation and sworn duty to take care of our public property. Westchester residents expect that County-owned assets will be maintained and taken care of by County Leadership and that public amenities are managed in such a way and with such effectiveness as to provide the best possible experience and enjoyment to Westchester residents of their public parks.
3) We ask that in addition to bonding out money to accomplish this massive financial undertaking in restoring our 88-year old Landmark, the County as an entity pursue all avenues to develop a combined financial plan to include, along with bonding, any and all available grant opportunities, corporate sponsorships/donations and private philanthropic donations through fundraising to help off-set the cost to Westchester County Taxpayers of a FULL restoration of their beloved Park.
4) We ask that the County Administration and Legislators develop a long-term plan of more solid management for this public asset and provide the exceptional level of stewardship this Park deserves that has been sorely lacking in recent years. We ask that the dearth of empty management positions at the Park that has been in effect since County Executive Rob Astorino took office be remedied immediately and that serious consideration be given to re-instating a renewed and modernized version of the Playland Commission that ran the Park effectively for fifty years until 1980.
5) We ask that Westchester County retain full control and management of this public park on behalf of the People of Westchester, that the Park continue to be staffed and maintained by our highly competent and experienced Westchester County Employees, thus retaining decades of irreplaceable institutional knowledge.
6) We ask that the County direct any and all proceeds/profits that a restoration project may incur directly back to the County Taxpayers who have funded it and specifically that a set portion of these monies be set aside and directed back to a special fund for Playland to help off-set the cost of all other future capital improvements projects that will become necessary.
7) We ask that the County do a full evaluation and restoration of the public swimming pool and Pool area at Playland and that they retain it as such in consideration of the needed public service this provides for local Westchester residents who do not otherwise have access to summer time swimming facilities.
8) We ask that the County give serious consideration to setting up a citizens-based Advisory Board dedicated to Playland and made up of residents from various areas throughout the County to provide adequate representation for all districts.
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