Standard Amusements LLC, which had been awarded a contract under the administration of former County Executive Rob Astorino to take over operation of Westchester County’s Playland Amusement Park in Rye, has filed for Chapter 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.
Court records indicate that the papers were filed on May 27, which was the Memorial Day holiday. However, court filings can take place electronically when courthouses are closed. The administration of current County Executive George Latimer had notified Standard that it was canceling the Playland contract effective May 28.
In the court papers, Nicholas Singer, founder of Standard Amusements, said the company was created solely for the purpose of managing and operating Playland. He stated that the county has breached its contract with Standard Amusements and manufactured “fallacious claims” that Standard had breached the contract.
Standard Amusements stated in the filing that to date it has spent more than $9 million under the agreement regarding Playland, including certain nonrefundable deposits paid to the county, without receiving a dollar in return on its investment.
Singer stated that Standard Amusements has exhausted all other alternatives and finds that the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing is necessary. He said that the agreement with the county was the company’s principal asset and only source of future revenues.
County Executive George Latimer issued a statement saying, “We have been notified that Standard Amusements has filed for bankruptcy. Our legal team will continue to address this matter as it will now be dealt with by the bankruptcy court. At this point we are continuing to focus on Playland having a vibrant and successful 2019 season.”
Singer contends that prior to 2018, Standard and the county enjoyed a cooperative relationship. He said the relationship soured beginning on Jan. 1, 2018, when Latimer replaced Astorino. In his filing, Singer was highly critical of specific actions taken by the Latimer administration, including “neglecting its duties to manage and invest in the park.”
Latimer had said that the contract gave the county the right to terminate the 30-year agreement with 30-days’ notice. The county accused Standard of being in default, in part, by doing things such as improperly claiming certain expenses as capital improvements and improperly claiming that monies spent on salaries, meals, travel, advertisements, marketing, consulting fees and legal fees were part of a $5.7 million investment in the park.
Standard has asked the court for an extension of the time by which it must file its schedule of assets and liabilities and other schedules and statements and casts the bankruptcy submission as an “emergency filing.”
Singer stated that claims made by the county that Standard Amusements had violated the Playland contract were baseless. He said that on numerous occasions Standard sought to engage the county in discussions about whatever concerns the county had as well as concerns Standard had about health and safety conditions at the amusement park. Singer’s declaration document said that Standard offered to increase its investment under the contract without asking for any additional consideration from Westchester other than a promise to honor the contract.
Singer stated that he has “repeatedly offered to negotiate with the county to resolve and address disputed issues and raised concerns. Unfortunately, the county has publicly rebuffed every overture of reconciliation advanced by me to negotiate in good faith, and declined numerous requests to clearly explain how the alleged breaches of the agreement could be cured.”
The court papers state that Standard Amusements was formed on March 3, 2011, to provide management and operational oversight of Playland. Standard is 90% owned by United Parks Holdings LLC (UPH), which is wholly owned by United Parks LLC. United Parks Holdings controls two other amusement parks: Daytona Lagoon Waterpark in Florida and Hydro Adventures in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, also a waterpark. There are other entities in the Standard Amusements picture: PCI UP LLC and PCI LLC. Singer stated, “Through my ownership of PCI, I serve as SA’s (Standard Amusements’) managing principal.” He explained that Standard was funded by cash distributions from UP LLC, passed through UPH, enabling Standard to meet its contractual obligations under the agreement with the county.
Singer stated that Standard Amusements has no long-term funded debt obligations, but does owe approximately $529,000 in trade debt to approximately 18 creditors.
Singer alleged that the county has fallen short of its funding obligation under the contract. He stated that the county should have spent $21.5 million on or before Jan. 31, 2019, but only spent $3 million.
Standard Amusements is represented in the filing by attorneys Daniel L. Canton, Diana Perez and John J. Rapisardi of the New York City-based law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP. In the filing, Standard gave as its principal place of business 1 Playland Parkway, Rye, New York 10580, the address of Playland.