Westchester Dems Want To Proceed With Children's Museum

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Democratic Westchester County Legislators hold a press conference at Rye Playland, asking County Executive Rob Astorino to hand the bathhouse keys over to the Children's Museum.
Democratic Westchester County Legislators hold a press conference at Rye Playland, asking County Executive Rob Astorino to hand the bathhouse keys over to the Children's Museum. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

RYE, N.Y. -- Democratic members of the Westchester Board of Legislators gathered at Rye Playland Thursday and called on County Executive Rob Astorino to allow work to begin on the Westchester Children's Museum.

The museum has a lease agreement with the county to occupy about half of the former men's bathhouse on the Playland boardwalk. With the county moving forward on a deal with Sustainable Playland Inc. and Astorino coming out in support of the Children's Museum, the legislators are asking Astorino to hand over the keys to the bathhouse to museum officials so that they can begin renovations and get ready to open the museum.

"The Westchester Children's Museum has been a dream for a long time," said Judy Myers (D-Larchmont). She said that the county has already invested about $7 million in renovating the building, and that the museum would bring in around 200,000 visitors and between $1 million and $2 million in revenue for the county. "It's about time we begin this project."

"I can't understand what is holding up the delay of turning over the keys to the Children's Museum," said Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining). "This is an organization that is ready to go, they have raised the money, the sooner they get in there the sooner we're going to have thousands of people coming to Westchester County, spending money."

Legislator Bill Ryan said that the County Legislature has been in favor of the Children's Museum and has worked for years to make it a reality, but that Astorino has never supported it. "In light of what the legislature decided years ago, why are we still at this point today? Because one man is standing in the way."

Bill Haley, the treasurer for the Children's Museum board, said that museum officials were frustrated by the delays that have kept the museum from opening. He said that the museum has raised about $8 million, and has a comprehensive architectural plan that would take 14-18 months to construct.

"Westchester Children's Museum is ready to go, and needs all parties to come together and finally give us access to the north bathhouse space. This will allow us to take the museum and it's dream of a year-long educational facility to the next level and beyond."

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County Executive Astorino is smart to go fast slowly on the Children’s Museum Lease.

• The north bathhouse is in a severe flood hazard zone. Had it been built last year, the contents would have been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
• The sponsors of the museum obviously mean well. However, there are ample similar attractions nearby, including the wonderful children’s section of the Bruce Museum in nearby Greenwich, Ct.
• It ill serves County Taxpayers to spend $7 million to rebuild the shell of the building only to turn it over for rent of $1.00/year. We need to step back and re-consider the best sustainable and economically feasible public use for this valuable public property.
• The museum is still $6-10 million short of the funds needed to complete the improvements and open the facility. They complain that they are having difficulty raising funds, but are only about half-way toward their goal. This is a recipe for a half-built museum unable to open and serve anyone. The taxpayers would have to pay to have the stuff hauled away.

Politicians are experts at spending other people's money for their pet projects. Why don't these pols fund it themselves?