Water park proposed at historic NY amusement park

Associated Press Modified: October 11, 2012 at 2:46 pm •  Published: October 11, 2012
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RYE, N.Y. (AP) — A beloved but money-losing county-owned amusement park on prime shoreline outside New York City would be refreshed with a small water park, a fieldhouse, ballfields and a "Great Lawn" under a letter of intent signed Thursday.

The plan is to turn over Playland's operations to a private partnership that would invest $34 million in capital improvements, pay Westchester County at least $1.2 million a year and end an annual drain on taxpayers estimated at $3 million to $5 million, said County Executive Robert Astorino.

Some of the park's newer rides would come down to make room for the lawn, gardens and a vista of Long Island Sound. But the 84-year-old park's best-known features — the wooden "Dragon" roller coaster, the old carousel, Kiddyland and a boardwalk featured in the Tom Hanks movie "Big" — would be retained.

Playland is the only art deco amusement park in America and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Admission, including access to the Great Lawn, will be free. Fees will be charged for rides and other attractions, but no details were given at a news conference Thursday.

Playland will be "an amusement park first and foremost for families," said Dhruv Narain, president of Sustainable Playland Inc., the new operator chosen after the county solicited proposals from developers.

His firm will contract with other companies to operate various areas of the park, he said. Among them is the company that operates Bryant Park in Manhattan.

Narain predicted hundreds of new jobs would be created.