To the editor,
As a dad looking forward to taking his 4-year-old son to Playland this summer, I’m happy to see the county protecting this unusual, historic amusement park. It did this by cancelling a contract that former County Executive Rob Astorino signed with the private company, Standard Amusements, to operate Playland. (Note: this doesn’t mean the park will close. Standard Amusements has never operated Playland. As was planned all along, the county will be operating it for the summer of 2019.)
The contract was a terrible deal for Westchester residents. It saddled taxpayers with most of the cost of repair and restoration. We wouldn’t see a dime of profit until Standard Amusements got all their money back. Even then, Standard Amusements would get over 90 percent of any net profits.
In a public/private partnership, the private partner must be fiscally sound. As I understand it, Standard Amusements couldn’t show that it had attracted any financial backing. It made no capital investment in the park, which it was required to begin doing. Instead, it spent almost $6 million on air travel, lawyers and stays in hotels, including the Ritz-Carlton, and listed these as capital expenses. It ignored the county’s invitation to explain and correct the situation. Because Standard Amusements was violating the contract, the county cancelled it.
I think that’s a good thing. As a public park, it’s priced so people who can’t afford a trip to Disney World can still go to Playland. Also, it’s the largest employer of Westchester youth. There would be nothing to stop Standard Amusements from making it too expensive for families of modest means, or from bringing in their own staff. Let’s keep Playland public! Playland belongs to Westchester residents, NOT to Standard Amusements.