Bye Bye, Rye Playland?

By Ida Siegal
|  Tuesday, Aug 3, 2010  |  Updated 2:34 PM EDT
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Questionable Future for Rye Playland

NBCNewYork

Ferris Wheel at Rye Playland

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Questionable Future for Rye Playland

The future of a once popular amusement park in Westchester County hangs in the balance.
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Ask almost any long time Westchester County resident about Rye Playland and they'll come up with a favorite childhood memory to tell you about.

"Real good memories," Said Antony Cruz of Port Chester. "My mom and dad used to drop me off I used to come here with my friends and enjoy life."

Paul Redd of Sleepy Hollow also looked back with fondness of the historic, decades old amusement park.

"I pretty much grew up here," said Redd. "I worked here, I played here, I slept on the beach.  It's really a part of my youth."

That's why news that there may be a plan to close it down has hit some park goers hard.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is looking for ways to better use the public park land -- and he points to decades of tax payer waste. 

Rye Playland is the only amusement park in the nation that is owned and operated by the government. Playland hasn't earned a profit in at least a generation. The park costs between 3 and 6 million dollars a year to operate.  Astorino says it makes more fiscal sense to shut it down.

"Seventy percent of the park patrons are non county residents," Astorino said. "So in effect you county people paying to subsidize a park that county residents don't attend, but non residents do." 

There's no clear plan for what will go in it's place.  Waterfront condos are out of the question because it is public parkland, but Astorino is soliciting ideas.

"It's a blank slate right now as far as I'm concerned," said Astorino. "Let's go out to the market place, see what ideas come back, what suggestions come back.  Who would like to run it, for what price... what they'd like to put there."

But 11-year-old James Simone from Larchmont doesn't care how much it costs to keep the park going. 

"I really don't want it to close because its really the only amusement park that I can go to," he said.

His mother, Marcella, agrees: "We need to keep it.  We have to do what ever we could to keep it."

If the park does close down it won't be overnight.  Astorino estimates they'll need a year-and-a-half to decide on a plan.

Depending on what they chose, the Westchester County Board and the State Legislature will need to give their approval.

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