Letter: SPI board: We want to work with Rye

To the Editor,

The Board of Trustees of Sustainable Playland Inc., wishes to thank the citizens of Rye for their support, encouragement and donations in our efforts to restore Playland Park for the Westchester community.

A year ago last month, County Executive Rob Astorino announced that SPI was the successful respondent to his request for proposals to “reinvent Playland for the 21st Century.” Then, last April, the Westchester County Board of Acquisition and Contract approved a 10-year asset management agreement with us.

Under the agreement, SPI and its operating partners will manage and begin restoration of the iconic park, including its historic features and amusement components. We will add indoor and outdoor athletic fields and a variety of new restaurants and other elements that will make Playland Park a balanced, year-round attraction for Westchester County residents.

As part of this work, SPI will seek additional historic recognition and designations of Playland to protect the park from inappropriate development and bolster fundraising efforts for restoration projects.

Restoring and revitalizing Playland is a multi-year effort, but we are ready to begin the process. It is worth noting that the SPI plan and park restoration is consistent with the county’s 2006 Playland master plan and adds more open space and recreational uses, which are badly needed.

During the spring and early summer, SPI met and worked with local elected representatives and members of the Board of Legislators from districts across the county. During this period, we also worked closely with the Westchester Children’s Museum and advocated for the county executive to finalize its lease, which was signed last summer.

Members of the county Board of Legislators and other stakeholders expressed specific concerns about our plan. The most significant was that too much of the amusement park would be converted to open space and that too much of the existing parking was being removed to allow construction of the new fieldhouse and outdoor fields. As a result, we worked with our operators to address the concerns and try to find a balance.

Adjustments to the plan enabled us to keep more parking spaces and retain more of the amusement components. At the request of the operator, Playland Sports, the size of the fieldhouse increased by approximately 20 percent, while the height and location of the building did not change.

In July, we prepared and submitted the Playland Improvement Plan, including the changes to the Board of Legislators for their review and approval. We met with the Government Operations Committee in October but took a quiet stance during the elections as we did not want Playland Park to be a political football.

With the election over, we are ready to resume the dialogue on the restoration of Playland. We are listening carefully to the issues being voiced and have a strong desire to work with the Rye community to address traffic and building concerns. In that spirit, we will hold a public information session on a date to be announced in early December, at which time we will present our proposed plan and review issues of concern to the community.

 

SPI Board of Trustees