Westchester County has invested $6 million to restore the North Bathhouse at Playland in Rye, so that the Westchester Children’s Museum can build a facility projected to draw tens of thousands of visitors to the seaside park.
Though the county restoration was completed in October, County Executive Rob Astorino won’t let the museum begin its $6 million construction project until his controversial proposal to privatize the park management wins approval from the county Board of Legislators.
New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, who wants to unseat Astorino in the November election, told Tax Watch on Wednesday that he supports the museum’s request for the bathhouse keys, so work can commence immediately.
“I don’t see any reason for delay,” Bramson said in a telephone interview. “There have been years of effort and planning devoted to the creation of an institution that’s embraced by the entire community. Millions of dollars have been raised. It’s clear that in order for the project to be successful, the organizers should be given an opportunity to move forward.”
Bramson attended the museum’s May 10 gala at the Ritz Carlton in White Plains, when Astorino announced that he supported the museum. It was movement in the right direction. But he didn’t hand over the keys, as many museum supporters had hoped, and as museum board member Ray Quartararo, the gala’s honoree, had called for in his remarks.
Astorino has insisted the museum wait until the Board of Legislators approves his plan to turn over the park to Sustainable Playland, a local nonprofit that wants to shrink the size of the amusement park, build outdoor fields and a field house, and open up the waterfront to what’s called a great lawn. But that plan has faced opposition among county legislators.
Four Democratic legislators held a press conference on May 16, charging that Astorino had held the museum hostage to his grand plans. They called for him to hand over the keys.
Astorino refused to do so last week. And he did so again on Wednesday.
Astorino spokeswoman Donna Greene said that the county executive continues to believe that the museum should be part of a comprehensive plan for the park, and should not move forward until his Sustainable Playland proposal wins approval.
“Our position hasn’t changed,” she said.
The Children’s Museum, meanwhile, welcomed Bramson’s support.
“It’s nice to see that he sees things the way we see it,” said Tracy Kay, the museum’s executive director. “We don’t need to be held up any longer. We’d like to get started. We’d like the advance the project sooner rather than later.”
Photos: New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, with two Museum supporters at Children’s Museum gala.
Below: Children’s Museum President Corinne Zola, left, with Ray Quartararo, center, and County Executive Rob Astorino.
Photos/ David McKay Wilson