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‘Triple Bottom Line’ for Playland in Rye?

photo: June Marie Sobrito

The triple bottom line normally refers to projects that address the needs of People, Profits, and the Planet. But it could refer to Playland Park if a new proposal for the park’s development is accepted.

On March 10th the county received 11  proposals from groups interested in “reinventing Playland for the 21st century.” Most came from veteran amusement park and fair operators. But one proposal, submitted by the nonprofit Sustainable Playland of Rye (SPI), clearly addresses the need to protect Long Island Sound and important natural habitats along the coastline that can suffer from erosion, flooding and pollution.

SPI’s proposal– about 57 pages–  is designed to “partner the skills of the private sector with the Westchester County government to implement its plan with governance and operations similar to the Central Park Conservancy.”

The plan would “provide a Westchester community-based solution that will restore the historical and environmental integrity of Playland Park and propose a plan for its evolution into a sustainable park that is fully in the public domain with increased open green spaces and access to the shoreline.” (A copy of the full proposal is provided on the organization’s website.)

According to the Wall Street Journal, while backed by business executives, Goldman Sachs and UBS financiers who live in the area,”SPI doesn’t want the local park to be turned into an ‘over-the-top-hotel or casino.'”  They hired Doug McKean, a third-generation Rye resident and LEED accredited architect to develop the plans. His work on Grand Central Terminal in New York City won recognition from President Clinton and he actually completed his Master’s thesis on Playland Park in 1979!  The proposal reflects his thirty plus years of thinking and experience with the park.

The next step in the proposal process is for the feasibility of each proposal to be evaluated by the citizens committee recently appointed by County Executive Robert P. Astorino. He says, “The level of interest in Playland and its future is impressive. We now look to our citizens committee for its input.”

Astorino appointed a 19-member citizen committee including business interests, environmentalists, park experts and park users to evaluate the proposals by the end of June or later. The committee will meet in April for the first time and is chaired by Jim Chisholm, chairman of the county’s Parks Board.

The County isn’t required to accept any of the proposals.



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10 years ago

This plan is misguided and self-contradictory. It’s supposed to be more environmentally-friendly, but will install ball fields and sports facilities adjacent to a nature preserve, which would cause the disruption of habitat by cheering crowds throughout the year. Where’s the logic?

And it takes Central Park as its model. Central Park is a great park, but so is Playland. I wouldn’t want to see Playland become a Central Park any more than I would want to see Central Park become a Playland.

Playland should keep its special identity. It should not be watered down by re-designers, well intentioned as they may be, who are not in a league with the original architects and planners of the wonderful Art Deco buildings and framed vistas.

10 years ago

This plan doesn’t seem to be advocating tear-downs. Historical preservation is not about slavishly adhering to every “improvement” the park has introduced since inception.

I like that the group is Westchester-based and non-profit, which removes the corporate profit motive: speed and $$ over what is right for our shoreline. And while the volunteers are from financial bad boys, it is encouraging to have people who know money and financing on the committee. It shouldn’t continue to be a tax albatross around taxpayers’ necks. If the park itself is to be sustainable, that is as important as protecting the wildlife areas and historic buildings.

10 years ago

Glad to hear you’ll be covering the rest of the proposals. However, you’re mistaken that SPI’s proposal does not involve damaging if not tearing down buildings. You yourself say the picnic shelters might be moved or altered. That’s not preserving the park or restoring it. The proposal also eliminates many of the rides and parking. It’s a very bad plan.

10 years ago

Sustainable Playland’s proposal doesn’t respect the integrity of the Historic National Landmark park, so it’s not a good plan. No plan should be approved that alters the Historic National Landmark. Playland Park is officially recognized as an important examplar of our national heritage. It is very important that it be maintained as it is. The landmark status applies to the entire park, not to only a few elements within the park.

Why so much press focus on Sustainable Playland? It’s no more deserving than any other proposal–much less than some others. The press coverage is unbalanced and biased. Just because Goldman Sachs and UBS people are involved in that group is no reason to bow and scrape to them. On the contrary, with the events of the last three years, it’s reason to be especially wary of them.

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