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Parsippany company bidding to invest in Rye Playland

Daily Record

Original Article »

March 22, 2011

CAI is the park operations affiliate of Zamperla Inc., one of the world's largest designers and manufacturers of amusement park rides. The company's Zamperla USA division is based on Fanny Road.

Last year, CAI spent nearly $30 million to lease and operate Luna Park in New York's Coney Island, revitalizing the historic amusement area there with several new rides and attractions from Zamperla.

The 289-acre park in Rye, N.Y., which opened in 1928 and is designated as a National Historic Landmark, is owned by Westchester County and is the only government-run amusement park in the United States. It began accepting proposals last year from companies to help make the park profitable. The concepts included adding new attractions, improving rides, adding indoor and outdoor ballfields and building an education-science center on the grounds.

"The level of interest in Playland and its future is impressive," Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said in a statement announcing the proposals. "We now look to our citizens committee for its input."

Though the county would not release specific ideas or financial information because of legal and proprietary reasons, some responses address the entire property while others focus exclusively on the amusement park, boardwalk or the ice casino, county officials said.

A newly created citizens committee will assess each proposal based on five criteria including its economic viability, impact on environment, entertainment value and experience of the developer. The 19-member group is expected to meet in April. The park is scheduled to open for the season in May.

The submitted proposals included one from the State Fair Group of Belleville.

Astorino has long said taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize the park, which he has said continues to lose millions of dollars annually. The hope is that one of these ideas, or a combination, will attract more people and help offset some of the $4 million the park has been losing in recent years, Astorino has said.

Though the county does not have to accept any proposal, the county executive hopes to move on any concepts by November and start negotiations with one of the groups. It would then take several years to implement.

The park has 50 rides, including the famous Dragon Coaster, Derby Racer and Log Flume.

Zamperla USA officials did not return a call seeking comments for this story.


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