Friday, September 23, 2011

Jack Falfas Involved With Rye Playland's Future?

The citizen committee that was tasked with evaluating the 12 proposals that were submitted for the future of Rye Playland has released their report - aptly titled "Reinventing Playland Park for the 21st Century."

In the end, the committee found that really only three of the proposals held enough water to be recommended for future review.  Deep within the report (available at this link) are further review and commentary from the group on each of the proposals, including ones from Central Amusements International, LLC and Standard Amusements, LLC.

What's interesting about the latter proposal is that Standard Amusements, LLC appears to be helmed by none other than former Cedar Fair COO Jack Falfas.  His group would technically be a non-profit using a large hedge fund as investment backing, and lists a $10 million investment in Playland that could include what sounds like a water park to help generate attendance.

Another of the top proposals was from CAI Parks, Zamperla's park management arm.  These folks have nicely transformed Coney Island over the past couple seasons, adding many rides and bringing the crowds back.  They propose to lease the park from the County, and replace current rides with newer ones, I'm sure from the Zamperla catalogue.  They also would bring in a new mini-golf course, and update Kiddie Land with "interactive lazer games and 4D movie theater."  Finally, a $2 million water park would be added.

The final proposal recommended for further review was from Sustainable Playland, and would see the area house a new "great lawn, athletic fields, redeveloped ice casino, continuing amusement park and beach, additional water activities and restaurant."  No more specifics than that were released in the report.

The actual proposals from these companies are not available to review, only the committee's synopsis of them.  As far as the future, the County's executive board will now consider the recommendations, moving forward with just one, a combination of several, or even possibly rejecting all and starting over.  That decision should come in early 2012.

Unfortunately, due to the timing of the final decision and a budget deficit for the County next year, this means that closing the amusement park for part or all of 2012 is now a possibility.  Not a final decision at this time, but definitely on the table as the park's attendance continues to plunge, creating huge costs for tax payers.

It is encouraging to see that the three top submitted proposals, as determined by the public committee, all involve keeping Playland as an amusement park.  Whether CAI or the Falfas-involved Standard Amusements get to move forward, or even neither, it is nice to see that the amusement park concept is still a priority.