Sustainable Withdraws From Playland Discussions While Uncertainty Exists

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Issues over the Playland Improvement Plan have been raised by the City of Rye and County Legislator Ken Jenkins.
Issues over the Playland Improvement Plan have been raised by the City of Rye and County Legislator Ken Jenkins. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

RYE, N.Y. -- Sustainable Playland Inc. announced Tuesday that it will not participate in the review of its Playland Improvement Plan until Westchester County resolves outstanding issues with the City of Rye and a lawsuit filed by County Legislator Ken Jenkins.

The move was precipitated by a letter that the City of Rye sent to the Westchester county attorney last week, saying that because Playland falls within the city, the Playland Improvement Plan (PIP) is subject to review and approval by Rye municipal authorities.

"New York law does not exempt county-owned land and county projects from municipal zoning and planning requirements," read the letter from Michael B. Gerrard, an environmental attorney retained by the city. "The City Council currently intends to designate itself as the lead agency in view of the fact that PIP falls entirely within the City's borders and its impacts are primarily of local significance."

The letter, coupled with the lawsuit filed by Jenkins in January against the county's agreement with SPI, prompted SPI President Kim Morque to send a letter to County Executive Rob Astorino and the Board of Legislators, saying that the legal actions caused too much uncertainty. Morque said that SPI would not continue with the review process until the issues were resolved.

Geoff Thompson, a spokesperson for SPI, said that the non-profit is seeking a resolution to the lawsuit, and for the county and the city to sit down and come to an agreement.

"This needs to be resolved. The question is, who is the referee for this game? That's not a question that SPI can answer," Thompson said.

In a statement, Astorino called on Rye Mayor Joe Sack and Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz to meet with him to see if the issue can be resolved.

"We have reached the point that litigation now threatens our improvement plans and the park itself. It is now time for elected leaders to do everything in their power to resolve the legal impediments that tand in the way of moving forward on saving Playland for future generations," Astorino said.

"Essentially the letter maintains the city's position that we have actual approval authority with regard to the proposal at Playland park," said Sack. "What the city is intending to accomplish by sending this letter is to ensure that the views of all Rye residents are both represented and addressed with regard to the changes that are being proposed at Playland park."

Thompson said that SPI has not backed out of its plans to take over management of Playland, and is hopeful that the matter can be resolved quickly so review of the plan can continue. He said that SPI would not have a problem if it was decided that Rye would have some input on the approval process.

"But to have things up in the air like this, and total uncertainty, is not an acceptable atmosphere to be operating and spending money and time," Thompson said.

The PIP is currently under review by the Board of Legislators Committee on Labor, Parks, Planning and Housing. The committee was set to review the legal and environmental issues at its meeting Tuesday morning, but without the participation of SPI the discussion was put off. Committee Chair Peter Harckham said hopefully the issues would be resolved quickly, so the committee could continue its review of the plan.

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