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County Lawyer: Board Must Approve Playland Agreement

Astorino can sign the management agreement, but the board must approve major changes to the park.

The County Board of Legislators is not needed to approve a management agreement between Westchester and Sustainable Playland Inc., but the board will need to sign off on many major changes to the park involved in SPI’s proposal, according to a written decision by County Attorney Robert F. Meehan dated Feb. 22.

After Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino signed a letter of intent with Sustainable Playland in October, the Board of Legislators requested Meehan’s opinion regarding Astorino’s ability to move forward with a contract. Astorino argued that the agreement would only require the approval of the county Acquisition and Contract board, which he controls, but the Board argued they would need to approve the final agreement. It turns out that both sides of the argument are correct, in a sense.

“An issue would arise if the agreement were to authorize actions to be taken by the manager which would materially change the existing land, buildings and infrastructure at Playland Park,” Meehan wrote.

He later concluded that SPI’s plan does include such material improvements and that the proposed agreement would have to include a provision that would state material improvements would be subject to approval by the legislature.

The Meehan summary reads:

“To the extent that the management agreement contains a provision which would involve significant and material construction or reconstruction, legislative approval would be required before such action or action could be undertaken. That appears to be the case with the proposal made by Sustainable Playland Inc. Therefore, that proposed agreement must include a provision which will condition any plan for material improvements at Playland Park to be subject to approval of that plan by act of the Board of Legislators.”

While awaiting Meehan’s decision, the board moved forward interviewing other bidders interested in the management of Playland.  On Feb. 13 they held a public information session where four groups presented their proposals and about 200 members of the public, many of them SPI supporters, turned out. The board plans to meet with the administration to discuss their opinions on the proposal. In the mean time, the administration is finalizing the agreement with SPI.

For more on Playland click here.  

George Datino February 27, 2013 at 04:55 PM
What I don't see here is if the BOL can act unilaterally and sign a management agreement without the County Executive signature? Do we have a situation where the County Exec and the BOL will actually have to work together to come up with a plan that both can agree to?
Billy L February 27, 2013 at 05:17 PM
It appears that way. I don't think any one branch of government should have unilateral power to do anything without the consent of the other.
Liz Giegerich February 27, 2013 at 08:17 PM
The Acquisition and Contract Board- made up of Astorino, Chair of the Board of Legislators Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers), and the DPW Director Jay Pisco (whom Astorino appointed) - signs management agreements. The legislature does not sign a management agreement. But Meehan's decision states that the agreement must include a provision that the BOL would have to approve major changes. So they do have to work together to get this done.
Ian February 28, 2013 at 02:19 AM
"But Meehan's decision states that the agreement must include a provision that the BOL would have to approve major changes. So they do have to work together to get this done." Which will leave all to futher wonder why Astorino thought it was ok to leave the BOL, and for that matter all of the citizens of Westchester County, out of the process in the first place.

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