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Playland Petition Gathers Hundreds of Signatures in One Week

A group dedicated to keeping Playland open as a full amusement park has started an online petition for their cause.

Following a Board of Legislators public information session on four proposals to assume management of Playland Park in Rye, a passionate Facebook group has created a petition to keep the park out of the hands of Sustainable Playland Inc. (SPI).  

The group is opposed to SPI's plan to remove about 30 percent of the rides and use some of that space for a Great Lawn. On their Facebook page, they also claim that SPI’s plan would not maintain and restore the park’s historical components and landmarks and would scale the amusement park portion of the area down by 50 percent. SPI officials say the petitioners are misinformed and that historic preservation and restoration and maintaining the amusement portion as the  “most significant part of the park” are the cornerstones of the SPI approach.

Within the first week that the online petition was created, the group collected about 800 signatures from locals as well as from people around the country – each signatory posts his city and state under his name. 

The petition reads:

Signatories are opposed to the proposal of Sustainable Playland Incorporated (SPI) as said proposal stood as of February 20, 2013.  SPI plans to remove 30% of the rides and reduce the footprint size of amusement park by over 50%.  We believe that decreasing the size of the amusement park and removing rides will drastically reduce the number of paying users of Playland.

Geoff Thompson, the SPI spokesman, says he does not think that signatories on the petition understand the SPI plan.

“They may not fully understand what the Sustainable approach is and we would hope that if they really give it a careful look they would understand our approach and see the value in it,” Thompson said. “We cannot overemphasize our commitment to amusement component and to the historic integrity of the park… We have no intention of destroying the amusement park.”

Thompson added that the Westchester Historical Society supports the SPI plan. He also confirmed that the SPI plan does intend to remove about 30 percent of the rides, mostly thrill rides, and other rides may be removed and replaced with new ones. The “footprint” of the amusement park would decrease by at most 33 percent, Thompson said, not 50 percent, as the petitioners claim.

SPIs plan would use some of the amusement park section for a Great Lawn. They also propose other “zones,” which would each be run by their own operators: field houses, an aqua zone, event and restaurant space and the ice rink. 

The petitioners favor two other Playland proposals over SPI’s, Standard Amusement and Central Amusements. Both plans are more centrally focused on the amusement park. Central would add 22 new rides within the first five years, offer free admission, interactive rides, a water playground, adventure golf and a children’s entertainment center. Standard would offer traditional games, three new rides, a water park, an enhanced focus on safety and security. They would also add four play fields in the back parking lot.

You can read more about each plan, and find their full proposals here.

County Executive Rob Astorino selected SPI as the group to revitalize Playland in October 2012, but the Board of Legislators have argued they need to be involved in that decision. Earlier this week, County Attorney Robert F. Meehan ruled that while Astorino can sign a management agreement with SPI, the Board would need to approve the major changes to the park included in the SPI plan.

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Deirdre Curran March 09, 2013 at 05:07 AM
Of course you have a right to comment, and the idea here is for everyone to discuss this complicated issue and bring about (hopefully) some meaningful sharing of information, ideas and viewpoints. But, believe it or not, Bob Zahm and I agree on something (don't fall off your chair Bob!). He's 1000% right. If you've grown weary of the thread (and I'm reaching a bit of burnout myself at this point, at least for today, so I totally understand) just ignore it. Turn off your notifications about new postings. Right now, it appears that as per Bob Z's definition, this appears to still be a useful thread. If you're not interested in the discussion, start one on another news story that you *are* interested in.
Deirdre Curran March 09, 2013 at 01:45 PM
That's funny. I talked to four kids this week in town (Ie: in Rye, and let's be honest, the *only* people this new plan by SPI is ever really going to benefit on a functional basis are the residents of the small enclave of Rye - not the entirety of Westchester County residents -which IMO is *exactly* the point). All these kids were between the ages of 10 & 12 years old. They all love soccer and like to play soccer. I asked them what they would rather have at Playland, rides and games like it is now, or more soccer fields and grassy areas. They all weighed the question thoughtfully, because I said to them, "Now, don't forget, you *do* really like to play soccer." Every one of them came back with "rides and games - more fun" That's our future generation. One of them even pointed out that if there are rides and games there they can do that stuff with their parents (and Grandparents when they come to visit!) and they couldn't do anything with their family on a soccer field. I thought that was a very insightful and forward thinking answer from an 11 year old. I wonder if any at SPI bothered to ask the "future generations" what they'd rather be coming back to in 20-25 years when they have their own kids...or if they were just concerned about their own personal property values.
Deirdre Curran March 09, 2013 at 01:53 PM
And make no mistake about it. This isn't about SPI founders wanting to do the right thing by Playland and save it from developers, or help get the County out of a financial fix. or bring an old dilapidated park back to glory to make it a better destination for all Westchester County residents (they make it sound like it's abandoned and rotting, it's not!). There is nothing at all altruistic in SPI's plan. This is about the personal property values of a group of homeowners in Rye (none, if any, that I know of who are life long or second generation residents) who care first and foremost about their own property values. I got this comment on one of my original FB posts from a friend who is also an SPI supporter and a local real estate expert. This says it all: "It is all financial- if Playland as is generated income for the County, it would stay as is. But Sustainable Playland, with a handful of historic rides, shops and green space etc. would able to be used by residents of all communities while increasing property values of surrounding area and be financially viable." - Look at that last line very closely folks. That's what this is all about. Since when is a public park supposed to be responsible for raising the property values of private residents living in close proximity?
sp March 12, 2013 at 12:13 PM
I don't want to get caught up in a whole thread, but if you are concerned about the loss of the the two historic buildings in the SPI plan, why don't you contact them? I know the architect, who worked on a proposal for playland as his master's thesis and is a passionate advocate for playland, as well as a rye resident. Alos, if the buildings are historic buildings, I would think they would have to get permission to remove them. So, rather than trying to fight against a good proposal, which would create year-round use, and mostly remove new and fairly lame rides, why don't you work with them. They are not some outside company who is coming in to do whatever they want to make money. THey are a group of your neighbors who banded together to make a difference. And for the record, I am a Rye resident and a playland attendee. I am one of the few westchester residents I know who goes to playland, and mostly for the kiddie rides. I would like a sculpture garden, and better mini golf (I really want better mini golf), as well as a cleaner park with higher end and better food choices. I don't want to compete with six flags or coney island. I want something that is uniquely Rye. Smaller with a greener feel. Perhaps the people who remember playland fondly haven't been there in quite a few years. seriously, talk to the SPI people. I think that many people have the wrong idea. They are residents, who are listening to their neighbors and proposing what we want!
Billy L March 12, 2013 at 01:13 PM
@sp What you suggest has been done already. the current proposal changes I will be ready to listen to what anyone has to say. It's not a good proposal. A lawn in place of rides with a sculpture garden? LOL What kid who wants to ride rides is going to like that idea? I've never had an issue with the fact Playland is not year round. The boardwalk and bathhouses and pier could have cafes and other attractions that are year round...I have no issue with that. This is an attempt presently to scale back but in the future remove all the rides. Sustainable Playland has promised more revenue from less rides. Their numbers do not add up.

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