This story has been updated to include comments from Sustainable Playland Inc. Spokesman Geoff Thompson.
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Westchester County Legislator Catherine Parker, D-Rye, decided to pull her support for Sustainable Playland Inc.'s Playland Improvement Plan after a committee meeting with its lawyer Tuesday, May 13.
The former Rye City councilwoman is also calling on her fellow legislators to end the review process on SPI’s proposal and pick one of the other two interested parties: Standard Amusements and Central Amusement International.
“It’s time to hear more about their proposals, both of which put more emphasis on Playland’s amusement park with respect to its great history,” she said.
Peter Harckham, D-North Salem, chairs the committee and said Parker pulling her support is a big deal because she represents that community. However, he said he will remain impartial in order to steer the review of SPI, which has an asset management agreement with Westchester County to manage the park starting in 2015.
Parker said she thinks one of the other parties could step in and achieve that same time frame if she gains support from her colleagues.
She said she hadn't spoken with anyone as of Tuesday afternoon.
"We respect Legislator Parker’s decision but remain committed to restoring Playland park and adding new facilities for year round use of the park,” Geoff Thompson, Sustainable Playland spokesman, said in a statement Wednesday.
At the Tuesday morning meeting of the Board of Legislators Labor/Parks/Planning/Housing Committee, Joe Carlucci, an SPI board member and its lawyer, tried to clarify some concerns. Chief among them was an agreement it reached with County Executive Rob Astorino’s administration regarding legal representation.
In an April 30 letter to Astorino, SPI President Kim Morque said it returned to the review process in part because the county agreed to represent it in “any current and future lawsuits relating (to) the approval process and implementation of the Playland Improvement Plan (PIP) should SPI be named as a respondent.”
Majority Leader Catherine Borgia, D-Ossining, said she was worried this would not only set a precedent but was so broad it could apply to any type of lawsuit, even after a potential vote to approve the plan.
Carlucci said the agreement simply allows SPI to “piggyback” on the county’s legal staff if both are named respondents in a lawsuit.
Harckham asked for a letter clarifying the nature of the agreement from SPI, as well as the Astorino administration. William Mooney III, Astorino’s chief adviser for government operations, said the meeting was productive and participants had homework to do, a sentiment echoed by Legislator Michael Smith, R-Mount Pleasant.
On the other hand, Parker asked SPI to submit a new asset management agreement outlining all of the changes that have been made to its plan.
Parker previously supported SPI but said she no longer believes its plan could benefit the county financially and that there are too many unanswered questions. She also said the plan could continue to be tied up in litigation even if it were approved by the board.
“Rye residents living near Playland have been worried, and rightly so, that SPI’s plan poses detrimental problems to the surrounding community in terms of traffic and a lack of parking, as well as environmental issues and a change in the character of the park with the proposed construction of a large field house.”
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