Renegotiation battle over Rye Playland privatization continues

RYE, Westchester County (WABC) -- Opening Day is still months away, but a battle is brewing over the future of Rye Playland.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer wants to renegotiate a contract with the company that will take over management in November.

In 2016, then-County Executive Rob Astorino signed a 30-year deal with Standard Amusements to run Playland. But Latimer says last-minute changes drastically increase the amount of money the county must pay for improvements.

"We started out with the county on the hook for $40 million-plus and Standard $30 million," Latimer said.

But he says the actual amount needed for repairs is $125 million, "and all the extra $50 million of the obligation falls on the county, which is a problem."

Latimer said he's also upset by a leaked report suggesting there are safety violations at the park.

A 2017 independent review found rodents could access food supplies in concession areas, and a photograph shows a bag of hot dog buns with the plastic gnawed open.

Latimer said the issues are minor and have been corrected.

"A walk through of the park today would show that none of the issues are in place today," he said.

Built in 1928, Rye Playland is the only amusement park in the nation owned and operated by government.

It averages 500,000 visitors each year.

Standard Amusements issued the following statement:

"Standard Amusements remains ready to engage in meaningful discussions regarding our fully-financed plan to preserve Playland's ecological, historical, and cultural integrity. This plan, which was carefully crafted over three years and includes detailed architectural schematic drawings and timetables, will revitalize Playland's aging infrastructure, attractions, concessions and amenities, ensuring it is a world class, safe entertainment destination for families. Standard Amusements has and remains open to sitting down with the Administration to discuss any specific concerns that they have with the contract."

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