WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Sustainable Playland Inc. will return to the review process for its proposal to “re-invent Playland for the 21st Century” nearly one month after stepping away amid concerns Westchester County legislators lacked a central vision for the park’s future.
In a letter to County Executive Rob Astorino on Wednesday, Sustainable Playland President Kim Morque said it returned because the county will represent it in any lawsuits related to the approval process that are ongoing or may come up.
Morque also said Astorino’s administration will take a more active role in completing the operator agreements.
“We can’t make up that time that was lost that they stepped away, but we can certainly try to replicate the same schedule,” County Legislator Peter Harckham said. “The bit about the county representing them adds a new layer of questioning.”
Harckham said they have to figure out whether offering SPI legal services would require board approval, adding that he wanted to know how that agreement with the Astorino administration came to be.
Ned McCormack, communications director for Westchester County, did not immediately return a call for comment.
Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz had set a May 1 deadline for SPI to return to the table.
“We welcome SPI back to the legislative review phase," he said. "We hope that this pause in the review process has allowed SPI the time to address, internally and with their partners the questions that have been posed through our committee review."
The various Board of Legislators committees now must set their schedules with SPI to get the process moving again, said Harckham, who chairs the Labor/Parks/Planning/Housing Committee.
“From my committee’s perspective we’re still committed to working on this in an expeditious fashion,” he said. While Sustainable Playland has made changes to its plan, like reducing the size of the Field House from 95,000 to 82,500 square feet.
“We wish to emphasize that we remain committed to the vision plan we share with you for the preservation, restoration and rejuvenation of this unique park,” Morque wrote in the letter.
Their goal remains to make the park less dependent on the amusement park, which can only be used during certain months of the year.
“Multiple uses will enhance the park’s economic viability, support the Westchester Children’s Museum and bring the private investments and activity that will enable the needed restoration and preservation of buildings and grounds,” Morque wrote. “Working in partnership with the County this effort can be accomplished.”