I'd like Rob Astorino to explain this to me: When SPI finally hit the road this week they had THREE "Operators" lined up to run various "zones" in the park for them. The "Playland Sports” people were supposed to run the “Field Zone”, but thankfully that has died what we hope is a final death and they are out. “American Skating” will now run the ice rink – because that was SPI’s pick so Astorino is apparently going to go ahead with that part of the plan, I would assume for a smooth transition and in order to keep things on track for the rink to open back up again in September with no further delays –which is what we all want: forward movement to success. So why isn’t Astorino going to proceed in the same time and money saving manner with the AMUSEMENT ZONE and go ahead and proceed to a contract with Central Amusements Inc. to, as SPI had planned, to run the Amusement Park, Beach, Pool and “Shore” zones?
Instead, Astorino is bringing in Dan Biederman – who was on board originally with the now failed SPI plan – to spend four time-wasting months “evaluating” the park’s operations so he can give the County his recommendations sometime around – or after – Election Day. Uhhh huhhhhhh. And that’s going to cost US – Westchester County Taxpayers - $20,000 A MONTH – YES I SAID A MONTH! - for a grand total of an $80,000 payout to Biederman. For WHAT? His “expert” opinion? He’s not an expert in the Amusement Park industry. He has no background in the Amusement Park industry at all. There are far more qualified people the County Executive could have hired to do this particular evaluation if he really wanted to get to the heart of Playland’s problems. And Astorino has the gall to campaign on being concerned about fiscal responsibility and not wasting Taxpayer money? Are you KIDDING ME?? *I* can tell you how to fix Playland for a whole hell of a lot less money than $80k. Rob, CALL ME. (he won’t, because newsflash: he *doesn’t* really want to fix Playland, he wants to kill Playland.) We can easily surmise along what lines Mr. Biederman’s recommendations will fall – the same ones they did before.
For the full Press Release of June 11th, 2014 announcing SPI’s exit see this link:
The outline of the deal with American Skating calls for a 10-year contract, with an option to renew for an additional 10 years, that will pay the county an upfront payment of $300,000 the first year; a base payment $250,000 the second year, which will increase by 2% each year thereafter; and 25 percent of the gross revenue above $1.6 million annually.
In addition, American Skating will make $640,000 in capital improvements to the Ice Casino within the first 18 months of the contract. These capital improvements at American Skating’s expense will go largely toward refurbishing and modernizing the interior of the building with upgraded floors, lighting, electronics, bathrooms, locker rooms and guest services areas. These improvements are in addition to the approximately $4.5 million it will take to reopen the Ice Casino in September when repairing the damages caused by Superstorm Sandy will be completed.
“American Skating Entertainment Centers is excited to be coming to Playland, especially at a time when we get to be part of the rebuilding and rebirth of the Ice Casino and the park,” said Shane Coppola, chairman and CEO of American Skating. “Our experience as one of the top ice rink operators in the country, as well as in Westchester, along with the great venue and team at Playland will be a winning combination for skaters at every level and their families.”
Further calling this ridiculous move into question is the fact that it may not even be LEGAL (oh, right, like he cares about *that*) for County Executive Rob Astorino to enter into such a contractual agreement with any vendor or operator for that long a time period without approval from the Board of Legislators.
Nothing, and I mean ABSOLTELY NOTHING about any of this is Kosher.
The Board of Legislators need to act quickly to bypass this nonsense, make sure that SPI is completely disengaged from all activity and involvement at that Park (seriously, they are going to be leading the charge for historic preservation? Because that 95,000 sq. foot Costco-esque building in the parking lot was SO going to be in keeping with the Park’s Historic Integrity? And fundraising with their now completely trashed credibility? *That* should work out just great).
The BOL needs to immediately move towards re-starting review talks with both Central Amusements and Standard Amusements to finish vetting those two other finalist bidders and determine which plan is right for Playland and County residents – then MOVE FORWARD.
NO MORE WASTING TIME. NO MORE WASTING MONEY.
Under Astorino's tutelage, Playland is marked for death.