CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino spoke Thursday with a group of county senior citizens about a wide variety of issues.
Astorino was joined by Westchester County District 1 Legislator John Testa of Peekskill at the Sky View Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, where the two men fielded questions from a handful residents for about a half-hour.
The county executive started the forum by talking about the challenges the county faces, such as cutting spending and lowering taxes. He said making taxes lower would help drive business and job creation in the county.
“What government can do is foster opportunities for local entrepreneurs to create jobs,” Astorino told the group.
Among the topics brought up by residents was Playland Amusement Park in Rye. Astorino said the park was being shopped to private investment groups. He said he hoped that within the next two months a plan would be in place. He said the park loses about $5 million each year and he wants to see the park run by someone else.
“It is the only government-owned and operated amusement park in the country, and there’s a reason for that – governments shouldn’t run amusement parks,” he said.
Astorino was also asked about tourism, which he said was one of the biggest growth sectors in recent years. He said the county was working to bring in visitors, such as people visiting New York City.
“Think about what Napa Valley did,” Astorino said. “San Francisco, it’s a great place. Then you have these wineries that aren’t far away, so if you’re going to go to San Francisco, they’ll say, 'Hey, come spend a day with us, too, and see how wonderful it is here.' And now it’s a destination in itself.”
When asked where he stood on the Indian Point power plant in nearby Buchanan, he said it was a vital and necessary part of the region.
“Thirty percent of the region’s energy comes from Indian Point and that’s significant,” Astorino said. “There is no replacement right now for that electricity that we need.”
Astorino’s main concern was safety issues at the plant, which he said had the highest safety ratings in the country.
“We need to make sure we can respond appropriately and if there is a call that needs to be made to evacuate the county, it’s my call,” Astorino said. “And that’s not something I take lightly.”
Testa, who is also a social studies and technology teacher at Peekskill High School, was asked about his new role on the county Parks and Recreation Committee.
“The main thing is to make sure they are accessible to the residents and that people know about them,” Testa said. “I know the county executive has been doing that, and we have a new tourism director, which helps promote the county in general, and I think we can be even better.”