What’s at stake.
On a personal level Playland means so much to all of us who enjoy all that it offers. On a wider scale it occupies a significant place in history. Its remaining seven original rides are historical landmarks and the park itself is landmarked for its art deco architectural style and theme. Historians also know that Playland is the first completely planned and designed amusement park. Its grand history is in jeopardy.
Playland’s future as we know it is at stake.
The New York metro area was once home to a number of family amusement parks. Palisades Park, Freedom Land, Rockaway Playland, and other smaller amusement parks are gone without a trace; bulldozed and sacrificed for new development. Rye Playland can conceivably suffer the same fate.
Westchester County, in its efforts to reduce taxpayer expense, has issued a Request For Proposals for the Playland site. The proposal asks respondents to consider it a blank piece of paper and to propose any future use for the property, other than housing. We understand that there are now eleven proposals, only three of which would totally preserve all of Playland as the family amusement park we love. The other proposals typically would destroy all or significant parts of Playland (some including the historic rides and structures) in favor of pastoral parkland, athletic fields, air domes and other forms of development. We believe that Playland, its mission, history and charm must be totally preserved and embraced as it continues and goes forward as a family amusement park.
Playland is a very unique park. Designed, owned and operated by Westchester County since 1928, it was until recently, the country’s only government owned and operated amusement park. Since opening its gates it has entertained literally millions of families. It has created countless wonderful memories for those families with fond stories to tell and pass on to future generations. Playland has, and continues to provide a certain magic for families as it affords them a most pleasant respite from the stress of daily life where they can be together enjoying the experience. In so many ways that is the definition of a family amusement park. By that measure Playland has not only passed the test but has been a success and a great asset for so many for so long.
We believe that there still exists a tremendous need and public desire for Playland. There is much evidence to show that families still seek out and patronize amusement parks as a favored form of entertainment. Attendance at all parks across the country has dramatically increased over the past ten years. Statistics also show similar results for the New York metro area including Long Island and Northern New Jersey and further demonstrate a strong recovery following the recent recession. A similar strength in attendance is also reported in nearby Connecticut parks. We believe that with certain improvements, re-investment and the proper care that Playland will perform as well as other parks in the region and regain its attendance and return to financial stability. There are so many reasons to embrace it and no reasons to destroy it.
There is much at stake for those who enjoy family amusement parks. There is even more at stake for those who love Playland for its national landmark theme, historical rides, and family fun. For those who have attended and enjoyed Playland across a couple of generations with the hope of continuing that tradition, its loss would be devastating. For future generations of children and their families its absence would represent a real cultural void. The work of the bulldozer is permanent. If Playland or any part of it is plowed under, its charm, history, rides and attractions shall never return.