Rye Playland brings back fond memories for Greenwich residents like Bill Nichols. For him, the nation's first purpose-built amusement park was the scene of his first date. For others it was where they had their first roller coaster ride or first taste of amusement park food.
Bill remembers riding the Old Mill on a high school date in 1963. "I remember my grandfather telling me stories of when horses were allowed in the park and the trapeze artists performed."
Now there's word these memories may become a thing of the past. Playland is facing a cash crisis receipts have plunged 15% this year - and Westchester County says it can longer afford to operate the park. New County Executive Rob Astorino says officials need to take a fresh look at what to do with the National Historic Landmark built in the 1920s and perhaps privatize its operations or reconsider its current use altogether.
Peter Tartaglia, director of marketing and public relations at Westchester County Tourism, said Astorino is looking for ways to use the park better and see it turn a profit. "There are no signs up saying it's for sale or that it's closing," he said. "A proposal is being created that will go out to private companies who may be interested in running the park."
"I would be devastated to see this place go," said Louie Gasparro of Greenwich. "Playland is a Westchester landmark.
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