On the heels of the revelation last week that the storm-damaged Ice Casino at Playland won’t be open in time for the fall hockey season, Tuesday Westchester Public Works Commissioner Jay Pisco said the county was not able to award bids last week for the reconstruction of large sections of the Playland boardwalk and pier that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Pisco told a legislative committee that the county Law Department informed him that the emergency bids, received last week, were improper and couldn’t be awarded. Instead the county will ask for bids through the normal process.
Ned McCormack, a spokesman for County Executive Rob Astorino, said he expects the work will be delayed two or three weeks but they’re still hoping to finish around the time Playland will open May 11. The problem, he said, was the storm damage was not an emergency under the legal definition used for expedited bidding.
“We disagreed with him but the county attorney is the chief legal officer of the county so we deferred to his opinion,” McCormack said.
Legislator Bill Ryan, D-White Plains, said after the meeting that questions remain about what happened.
“Something is missing here and we’ve got to get to the bottom of it,” he said.
The announcement came at the end of a heated discussion on the Ice Casino, which board members found out last week will not be ready for play until next winter. Legislator Catherine Borgia, D-Ossining, the chairwoman of the Government Operations Committee, said they were upset that they “stumbled on” the news after assuring constituents that repairs would be done by September. It’s not the way to run government, she said.
“It erodes trust to not be told when there’s a problem of this significance,” she said.
Board members were also upset that they had asked public works officials if they needed more money for repairs and been told no and that they had budgeted $1.7 million in revenue from the Ice Casino that won’t materialize.
“Maybe I’m wrong but I feel like Playland is being set up to fail,” said Legislator Judy Myers, D-Mamaroneck, who represents the area around Playland.
Parks Commissioner Kathleen O’Connor said the county is asking for reimbursement through its insurance policy for the lost business. Playland will open May 11 regardless of the state of the boardwalk and Ice Casino, she said. The rides will be ready to go, said Deputy Commissioner Peter Tartaglia.
Ryan asked for copies of the emergency contractor list, the emergency bids and more on the Law Department’s opinion on the bids.
“We’ve got to have something on hand to understand this because I’m not buying this,” he said.