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Latimer Doubles Down On Westchester's Canceled Playland Contract With Standard Amusement

George Latimer at the 2019 opening of Rye Playland.
George Latimer at the 2019 opening of Rye Playland. Photo Credit: Contributed

The roller-coaster ride Westchester County Executive George Latimer has been on with Standard Amusement over the management of Rye Playland may have reached its end.

Latimer had announced that the county will be terminating the contract with Standard because it “did not engage in the ongoing process to resolve its breaches of the Playland Agreement.”

Now, he's doubling down on his stance.

“We outlined in detail over a year ago the basic problems we had with the original deal, and more recently, the failures of Standard to honor its commitments in the manager's investment,” he stated on Tuesday, May 21. “We wanted to work toward an amicable termination of the contract; later in the process, we offered an opportunity for Standard to provide consulting services in partnership with the County to reposition and strengthen the park.”

Latimer said that the meetings were “the opportunity for there to be a new construct of our relationship that could be beneficial to the park, and to the people of Westchester.”

“Subsequently, Standard has embarked on a campaign to undermine public confidence in park health and safety, working to purposefully injure the County’s ability to operate Playland,” Latimer noted. “This is disappointing behavior from a company that claims to be focused on the best interests of Playland.”

The county currently owns and runs Playland, but Standard was supposed to take over operations there late last year. A 30-year deal was approved three years ago, before Latimer took office. The termination notice will be official as of Tuesday, May 28.

Latimer has accused Standard of falsely accusing the county of a lack of transparency, alleging that the company has acted in poor faith.

“We have held press conferences answering all questions from the press about this matter,” he stated. “On the other hand, Standard has not been forthcoming about the source and terms of the investment it claims is available to the company to satisfy its obligations to invest $27.75 million in Playland.  Standard has refused to allow the county to complete its audit of the amounts Standard claims to have invested in the park.

“We already know that the vast majority of those amounts cannot properly be claimed as part of the company’s contractually defined Manager’s Investment. Standard has yet to publicly answer questions about its investors, its specific plans for the park, the specific projects it would use its capital to fund, and a wide range of legitimate operational questions.”

Latimer said all Westchester residents “want what is best for Playland,” and that the agreement with Standard was doomed to fail.

“We all want what is best for Playland, and we agree that a public-private partnership can accomplish that mission – but this deal with Standard Amusement is not a partnership; it is a giveaway of authority and responsibility of a precious public asset to a private organization whose motives and processes are at best, unclear, and at worse, deceptive,” he said.

“We would be derelict in our public duties to simply accept a bad deal struck by others, and meekly acquiesce to the end of public management of Playland for the benefit of the people of Westchester.”

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