In 2021, Westchester plans to reopen Playland, but not County Center

An overflow hospital for COVID-19 patients at the County Center has yet to be used.

Mark Lungariello
Rockland/Westchester Journal News

Crank up Ye Old Mill: Playland is set to reopen next year — maybe.

Westchester County didn’t open the historical Rye amusement park this year because of the coronavirus but it’s banking on a May 2021 reopening.

Likely to stay closed is the Westchester County Center in White Plains, home of the development league basketball team the Westchester Knicks.

County Executive George Latimer released his 2021 budget proposal on Tuesday, which anticipates revenue from Playland being in operation but no revenue from the County Center.

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Playland Park in Rye June 30, 2020.

The small municipal arena is usually the site of trade shows, musical concerts and the circus but it was converted to an overflow hospital as New York state braced for a surge on its medical capacity in the early days of the virus outbreak in the region.

Latimer said it made sense to keep the center as a backup as confirmed coronavirus cases increase and a second spike is expected in the cold weather months. Westchester owns and operates both facilities.

Drone image of the Westchester County Center in White Plains on Thursday, April 2, 2020.

“If we were to deconstruct it, we’re not going to re-reconstruct it again,” he said.

After a conversion by the federal government that cost $42.9 million, the center is equipped with 110 beds inside and in a tent in its parking lot. But no COVID-19 patients have had to be housed there to date, though it's still run by the New York State Department of Health.

Westchester has a roughly 3,000 hospital bed capacity and 160 intensive care unit beds, but at the height of the first virus wave the local medical system never hit its maximum. The highest amount of people hospitalized in Westchester has been roughly 1,200.

Although Westchester made the decision to close Playland for a whole year for the first time since it opened in 1928, a state order would’ve kept amusement parks closed anyway.

The park is tentatively scheduled to open in mid-May and Latimer said the county would have to decide whether to follow through with the opening by mid-February. Latimer acknowledged that another virus surge could mean the park has to stay closed again for 2021.

“If we wind up with Playland in that situation…then we will deal with it, that’s the only thing you can say,” he said.

David Propper contributed reporting.

Mark Lungariello covers government and politics. Follow him on Facebook @lungariello and Twitter @marklungariello