WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - County Executive Rob Astorino's veto of a 10-year lease agreement for the operation of a Playland children's museum was overridden Wednesday night by a unanimous vote from the Westchester County Board of Legislators.
The vote took place at a special Board meeting with bi-partisan support. The bill was approved unanimously on Aug. 8.
“This lease reaffirms the continuing resurgence of Playland as both an important family destination and strong economic engine for the residents of Westchester,” Board Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) said. “Because it such a real 'win-win' situation for the people of Westchester. I am extremely glad that it has been passed by my colleagues on the Board, and now I strongly urge the County Executive to give it his approval.”
The lease allows the Westchester Children's Museum to occupy about 21,390 square feet of a space formerly dedicated to the men's bathhouse on the Playland boardwalk. It will make $6,441,300 in renovations in exchange for a yearly rent of one dollar.
“The reuse of a portion of the Playland bathhouse as a children's museum is consistent with the family- oriented concept and mission of this wonderful County resource,” Majority Whip Judy Myers (D-Larchmont) said, who sponsored the lease bill in the Budget & Appropriations Committee. “The museum will serve as another attraction at Playland during the summer months and will bring visitors out through the rest of the year as well.”
More than 870,000 children under 11 years of age live within a 15-mile driving radius of the future museum site at Playland Park in Rye, Myers said.
“This will be a great educational and recreational resource for kids and families in the region,” said Legislator William Ryan (D-White Plains), chairman of the Board's Committee on Public Works, Parks, Labor & Transportation. “The additional revenue the museum will bring to the County is an added benefit."
Under the lease agreement, the Westchester Children's Museum will be responsible for making capital improvements to the bathhouse, all of which will be subject to the approval of the Westchester Department of County Parks, Recreation and Conservation, along with the Department of Public Works because of the Playland's National Historic Landmark designation.
If the museum is not open a year after signing the lease, the property reverts back to Parkland.
All of the parking fees collected for visitors to the museum will go into the County's coffers.
To date, the Children's Museum has raised more than $8 million for the project. Tracy Kay from the museum said she expects to have 198,000 visitors per year and 50,000 cars over the course of a year.
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E-mail reporter Phil Corso at PCorso@MainStreetConnect.us.