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Newly Named Playland Manager Says His Love Of Park Will Inspire Makeover

Nicholas Singer was singled out by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino during his "state of the county" speech Wednesday night. County Board of Legislators' Chairman Michael Kaplowitz is just to Singer's right, in the background. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Nicholas Singer, center, co-founder of Standard Amusements with Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino on Tuesday announcing a tentative agreement to manage Rye Playland. Photo Credit: Provided
A mother and her two children leave Playland Amusement Park on opening weekend in May 2014. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

RYE, N.Y. -- The amusement park manager picked by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino to operate Playland until the year 2030 and beyond reminisced Friday about his childhood growing up nearby.

Nicholas Singer, a 1996 graduate of Harrison High School, said his father still lives on Anderson Hill Road in Purchase. His aunt lives in Purdys and other relatives have lived in Mount Vernon  and Mamaroneck.

"I'm a proud Huskie," Singer said, referring to the Harrison Central School District where he attended Purchase Elementary School, Louis M. Klein Middle School and Harrison High.

Singer said he skated at Playland's Ice Casino between the ages of four to 12. He said he also spent many summers at Rye's public beach, ate Walter's Hot Dogs in Mamaroneck, frequented diners in White Plains and remembers watching Halley's Comet with his father from Edith Read Wildlife Sanctuary, also in Rye.

So when Singer visited Playland's boardwalk in 2010, he said a flood of fond memories returned.

"This place is such a gem. How could this place lose money?'' Singer, a finance executive, wondered. "In the back of my mind I was thinking, 'Someone could do a lot with that place.'"

A few months later, Singer said "someone back home" contacted the co-founder of Standard Amusements to tell him that Astorino was requesting proposals to manage the county-owned park and invest money into its refurbishment.

After a county agreement with another finalist fell through last year, Singer's company emerged as the favorite. He signed a tentative agreement last Monday subject to approval by the county Board of Legislators. The deal includes more than $22 million in investments in the historic rides, new rides and new food choices. The management contract would begin Oct. 31 and be renewable in 15 years.

Astorino said he envisions making Playland a year-round facility to make it more profitable to the county and Standard Amusements. But the possibility of more traffic, noise and other negative impacts is of concern to City of Rye officials and those living closest to the park.

Friends of Playland has posted an online survey here for people to share their views and concerns.

As someone who grew up nearby, Singer said he is sensitive to Rye neighbors concerns' about adding new features such as a water park or ball fields.

If temporary fields are added to parking areas, Singer said they would operate at  reasonable hours "as not to disturb people."

"We're very amenable guys,'' Singer said. "We don't dictate to the community. I'm not going to antagonize our neighbors."

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