RYE, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Rye Playland is getting ready to open for the season this weekend, but it will cost more to go there.
It’s not all fun and games for county leaders, as they try to deal with major debt, reports CBS 2′s Lou Young.
Hoping to make a splash this season, the folks at Rye Playland were running the flume and ferris wheel through the paces in advance of Saturday’s season opening. The theme park is a place steeped in nostalgia – but deep in debt.
“I’ve been coming here all my life, and it’s always been a nice, peaceful place,” Mamaroneck resident Teresa Filip said.
Westchester’s cost-cutting county executive said he is poised to make big changes at Playland. Ticket prices were hiked for this season, and a dozen proposals are in the hopper to put the place back in the black.
“This place has been limping along, and unfortunately we’ve got to break that model,” Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said. “We’ve got to start making money here.”
Playland’s biggest financial drawback is its short 100-day season. Development proposals include not just the rides, but the nearby ice casino and crescent-shaped boardwalk, attracting a variety of ideas.
“An indoor dome, some fields – those kind of uses that, again, would make this a year-round park,” Astorino said.
Playland’s gates open Saturday, and a redevelopment decision was expected to be made by the end of the year. Fans of the park said they were anxious, and hoped things would change as little as possible, worrying that developers would be moving in.
“If they get their hands on the property, they’re going to cut out the common people,” Bob Filip said.
Many residents who spoke to CBS 2 seemed to worry about the property becoming gentrified with condos and limited access to the Long Island Sound, but county officials insist that won’t happen – that whatever happens to Playland, it will remain a county park.
During most of the past decade, Rye Playland has lost between $3 and $5 million a year.