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Westchester Children's Museum claims $2.43 million in assets

Westchester Children's Museum Board President Ira Greenstein and

Westchester Children's Museum Board President Ira Greenstein and Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins sign a lease agreement Thursday to house the museum at the former men's bathhouse at Rye Playland. Looking on from left are: Tracy Kay, executive director of the children's museum; Legis. Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining); Legis. Bill Ryan (D-White Plains); Campaign for the Westchester Children's Museum Board President Corinne Zola; Legis. Judy Myers (D-Larchmont); and county Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-Katonah). (Oct. 18, 2012) Photo Credit: Westchester Board of Legislators/Thomas Staudter

The Westchester Children's Museum claims to have enough money to move into Rye Playland.

The museum had around $2.43 million in assets, including around $860,000 in cash and other funds at the end of the nonprofit's fiscal year in June 2012, according to financial documents obtained by Newsday.

The remainder of the museum's assets included architectural plans and other materials associated with the White Plains-based nonprofit's proposed move to the North Bathhouse at the county-owned amusement park, according to the draft of its most recent 990 tax form, as well as a copy of its audited finances.

The museum's executive director, Tracy Kay, offered Newsday the financial forms after critics questioned whether the museum has the financial wherewithal to locate in the bathhouse.

Kay expected a surge in donations to the group once they moved into the bathhouse and set up operations. He estimated the final tab for the museum opening at Playland would be around $10 million, including $7 million in renovations and as much as $3 million for exhibits.

"It seems our support is still strong, but we haven't been able to clear the big gifts until we clear the big hurdle," said Kay, who earns around $160,000 annually, according to the documents. "Each day that goes by that we don't have the doors open, we spend money without a revenue stream."

Democrats on the Board of Legislators last year approved a lease that would allow the museum to move into the empty bathhouse. But it's not clear if the lease is a valid legal document.

County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, has said he supports the museum's plan, but doesn't want to give the nonprofit the keys to the bathhouse until he sees more progress in his deal with Sustainable Playland, a Rye nonprofit that's planning a $34 million refurbishment of the aging-but-beloved park.

Under a 10-year management agreement that was recently finalized between Sustainable Playland and Astorino, the group is due in the coming weeks to give the county executive a construction plan for the park, including eliminating some nonhistoric rides.

The county executive will review the plan and forward it to lawmakers for their approval. The board must approve major structural changes to the amusement park.

Under Astorino's deal, Sustainable Playland would take over operations at the park in October.

In the meantime, Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) has filed a lawsuit that argues Astorino overstepped his authority when negotiating a deal with Sustainable Playland. Jenkins believes Astorino should have worked more closely with lawmakers in choosing Sustainable Playland and negotiating a management agreement.

According to the Children's Museum's financial documents, the nonprofit received almost $720,000 in contributions between July 2011 and June 2012. That figure does not include $200,000 the museum claims to have generated at a recent fundraiser. Donors names are confidential.

The museum has around $438,000 in expenses, including Kay's salary, as well as the cost of running educational programs in schools and other venues throughout the county, the documents said.

The museum has been running those programs since 2000, said Kay.

"We've been able to survive 13 years without a building," he said. "Just think what we could do with a museum."

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