RYE, N.Y. – Westchester Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins filed a lawsuit Thursday in an effort to annul the County Executive Rob Astorino's agreement with Sustainable Playland to take over management of Rye Playland.
The county’s Board of Acquisition and Contract voted to approve the agreement on April 18. According to the lawsuit, the vote was in excess of the board's jurisdictional duties and contrary to the laws in the County Charter.
“The ten-year agreement that the County Executive wants to sign with Sustainable Playland is just a lease by another name, and he knows well enough that leases involving the County for more than five years need approval from the Board of Legislators,” said Jenkins (D-Yonkers). “It is another unfortunate attempt by the Astorino administration to circumvent the authority of the Board of Legislators. The purported agreement tries to put the cart before the horse. I am confident that a court of law will agree with me on this.”
The agreement would see Sustainable Playland take over management and maintenance of the amusement park for ten years. Sustainable Playland would pay the county a base fee of $4 million and make annual payments of $1.2 million. Sustainable would take over control of the park on Oct. 1 and make several renovations, including removing some rides and dividing the park up into six zones.
When announcing the deal back in April, Astorino said that the Board of Legislators would not need to approve the management agreement, but would have to approve the improvement plan before any renovations could be made to the park. In his lawsuit Jenkins says that the management agreement has the provisions of a lease, and must be approved by the Board of Legislators.
Several Westchester County legislators have expressed doubt about the deal with Sustainable Playland. Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) has been holding meetings to evaluate the other proposals to renovate Playland. A group called Save Rye Playland has also circulated a petition against the deal, saying that Sustainable’s plan would remove too many rides and change the character of Playland.
“The rush to cement this agreement without a full review involving the Board of Legislators simply is not right for Westchester,” concluded Jenkins.