Letter: Sack, council need to stand against SPI plan

To the Editor,

The following is an open letter to Mayor Joe Sack and the Rye City Council.

At this key juncture, we are asking city officials to take a firm position in protecting the City of Rye from the county’s plan to impose on our community the intrusive, year-round private sports complex in the Playland parking lot. In the past few months, you have heard from Rye residents at your meetings, in writing, in petitions and in other forums where we have asked for your help. We have well documented the size and the scope of the problems facing Rye.

Unless the Rye City Council takes a strong position now, Sustainable Playland Inc.’s field zone project will be imposed upon this community with consequences to the financial success of Playland, traffic on Rye streets and negative quality of life impact for residents in bordering Rye neighborhoods and streets.

The 95,000-square-foot facility will be one of the largest buildings in the City of Rye residing

in the FEMA designated flood zone. It is so close to homes in Rye that it will dramatically alter the quality of life and economic value of homes. It will alter the balance for many Rye neighborhoods near Playland, compromising what is currently seasonal activity for three months of the year, quiet, passive recreation and views of Long Island Sound.

In addition, the loss of 900 parking spaces for the amusement park will be the death knell for Playland Amusement Park. The park cannot thrive or be revitalized if it loses capacity to accept customers. The losers in that equation will also be Rye with the resulting illegal parking on our streets. In addition, if the park fails, the next move by the county will be to impose commercial, non-park activities at Playland, which will mean even greater risk for Rye.

We ask the Rye City Council to immediately adopt a resolution and communicate to the county that the City of Rye opposes SPI’s field zone project—sports house and two outdoor fields—and ask that the county cease and desist from including it in their plans for Playland.

We ask that the city demand that it be given access to the actual financial business plan of SPI and all subcontractors and the information be shared with the county Board of Legislators.

Rye cannot afford for Playland to fail.

We have major reservations about the financial or functional capacity of SPI to operate or oversee this business. Their performance at county Board of Legislator committee meetings and at the meeting SPI sponsored at the Rye Free Reading Room cast new doubt on their credibility as an operating entity. Neither the City of Rye nor the county should trust this park with unproven entities. The poor performance of SPI invites new scrutiny as part of the due diligence we expect of both the city and the county.

If Rye is ignored, we also ask that the city be prepared to take legal action against the county to protect Rye. There are numerous issues where the county is on weak ground, including SEQR, flood zone protection and alienation of parkland for a private purpose. Rye residents expect the city to protect the Ryan Park residents and the larger Rye community.

In the last few months, we have heard much from city officials about process; the SEQR process, the local planning process, the county review process. We fear that Rye is going to be overrun by the imposition of a fatally flawed plan before any process takes place. For that reason, we ask the City Council to take a stand now and demand that the county respect Rye’s decision on the SPI’s field zone issue.

Since the amusement park opened, the Rye City Council has always taken a strong position in protecting the community for excesses at Playland. The original Playland Neighborhood Advisory Committee was established decades ago for that purpose.

In the last four years, the City Council strayed and did not give scrutiny to what was being considered at Playland and the impact on Rye neighborhoods. Now you know the details and are in a position to take a new course.

We are asking for your help.

Take a stand and stop the field zone project and demand full scrutiny of the financials of the SPI plan so you and the public can demand a Playland plan that succeeds.

As always, thank you for your service and for your help on this important issue to Rye.

 

Mack Cunningham,
Rye