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Playland's Second Act? Locals Have a Few Ideas

Wall Street Journal

Original Article »

March 22, 2011

As Westchester County executives debate proposals for the redevelopment of  Rye Playland, hundreds of residents are weighing in on the debate over the ailing amusement park.

The Playland, one of the few amusement parks in the U.S. owned by a municipality, has been hemorrhaging nearly $5 million a year and faces $32 million in debt. Last year, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino asked for proposals from developers who want to take over the 100-acre site and “reinvent the historic amusement park.”

One proposal came from a group called, an organization of local volunteers and county employees offering 50 ways that Playland could immediately boost attendance, reduce expenses and achieve profitability. Their vision is laid out in a 60-second video:

Suggestions include “be less creepy” and “serve really great ice cream.” The group keeps up a blog with satirical comics and  videos.

Earlier this month, Rye Councilwoman Catherine Parker put the task to a group of 50 10- and 11-year-old kids. She organized a children’s town-hall meeting and solicited recommendations on how to make more money at the historic park.

“To make more money, you can put different kinds of shows on the ice rink and stuff,” 11-year-old Juliann Groglio said, according to a report in the Journal News. Other suggestions included adding a water park and a gym.

The debate over Playland’s future is also playing out on Facebook, where groups such as Save Rye Playland, with nearly 800 members, and Rye Playland for the People, with more than 100 members, have popped up.

“This page is for sharing information, collaborating on strategies to keep Playland public & out of the hands of profit-seeking privateers,” reads the group description of
Rye Playland for the People.

Friends of the Rye Nature Center, an environmental-education group, created a video about the impacts of development at the 289-acre Rye park, which is set along the Long Island Sound. The group says it will support a  developer who adopts ecological priorities, including expanding habitat restoration.


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