Westchester County-owned and operated Rye Playland Amusement Park received a shout-out on the Thursday episode of CBS’ “The Late Show with David Letterman,” but it wasn’t exactly what you would call a ringing endorsement from the show’s host.
Playland, its future blurred as the county tussles about the potential of hiring a private management company, received a mention during the show’s Top 10 list. Letterman, who was preparing to list “The Top 10 Eric Cantor Excuses” about the U.S. House majority leader’s loss in a Republican primary, mentioned Playland when he clowning his own show staff.
“Coming to work here is like going to work every day at Rye Playland, ladies and gentleman,” Letterman said. “It’s old, it’s rundown and most of the rides don’t work – but it’s still home.”
Later, when Letterman began his Top 10 countdown, he almost started at No. 1 rather than counting down from No. 10. “Every ride is broken,” he said. “Old and broken.”
The No. 1 excuse for Cantor ended up being, “Political career always a long shot for rich, white guys.” Letterman announced he will retire in 2015, to be replaced by Stephen Colbert, who hosts “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central.
Playland, one of the only government owned-and-operated amusement parks in the United States, has been making headlines locally after a deal to hand management of the park to a nonprofit was scrapped last week. The park has been at the center of a debate over whether the county should continue to run an amusement park the administration says is losing money. Supporters of the historic park say it is lacking proper management and infrastructure investment.
The park began operation on May 26, 1928. The original design included a boardwalk, ice-skating rinks, a swimming pool, and two beaches, as well as amusement park rides, some of which are still in use. Built in 1929, the Dragon Coaster serves as the park’s mascot and appears in the Playland logo. The Dragon Coaster is one of roughly 100 wooden roller coasters still in operation in the United States.
In 2010, the Westchester County executive, Robert P. Astorino, solicited proposals to re-imagine Playland, a 100-acre amusement park built in 1928 and perched on the shores of Long Island Sound. Playland has been losing $3 million to $5 million annually, with the number of visitors dropping each year. The park encompasses 50 rides, an ice rink, a swimming pool, a boardwalk, a lake and a beach.
The City of Rye has written threatening letters to the county, insisting that any changes at Playland must be reviewed by its planning commission and City Council. With the threat of litigation hanging over Playland, however, and the intensifying dispute between Westchester and Rye over jurisdiction, Sustainable Playland recently said it would no longer take part in a review of the project by a committee of the County Legislature.
Nearby residents, say they are the ones who would be most affected by the proposed changes, including the 35-foot-tall field house. “Save Playland” lawn signs have spread in Ryan’s Park, the section of Rye adjacent to Playland’s parking lot. The signs feature a red line through “95,000,” the original number of square feet in the plan.
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show. AJ is a Father, Brother, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Hip-Hop Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.
“It’s old, it’s rundown and most of the rides don’t work – but it’s still home.”
Like everything else in Westchester, it’s a damn shame
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