Playland Sold; Moving To Albany
What some feared was the end of a 62-year tradition is having a new beginning. Hoffman's Playland, a suburban fixture that fell victim to development, is getting a new lease on life — in the heart of Albany’s gritty warehouse district.
With the iconic miniature railroad train as a backdrop, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy was jubilant that his office was able to help keep Playland alive. The news came just weeks after families crammed the Latham park for one last visit. "I'm happy! Very happy to announce that this partnership today between Huck Finn and the Hoffman family is a reality," McCoy exclaimed.
McCoy worked for months assisting in negotiations between the Hoffman and Sperber families to make the much-hoped for transition see light of day. The Albany Business Review reports it was a "complex, multi-layered deal," a $1.8 million deal, to be exact, which will transplant the park to land bordering Huck Finn's Furniture Store along Erie Boulevard in Albany's warehouse district. $650,000 will come from grants. $250,000 from National Grid; $250,000 from Empire State Development, the state's economic development arm, plus $150,000 from the Albany County Industrial Development Agency.
IDA chairman county legislator Gary Domalewicz: "This project is going to be funded by fees that we've earned from private sector dollars for financing projects throughout the county. And that's how we earn our fees. In this particular project, the 150 thousand that we're gonna get 'em, I fully expect we'll get back within two years, just in sales tax revenue alone from the park itself."
Albany’s waterfront was once home to similar amusement parks a century ago. Recalling her own youth, Mayor Kathy Sheehan sees the park as a ray of hope for impoverished kids in North Albany. "We are so looking forward to partnering with Huck Finn, to take young people who are in our Summer Youth Employment Program, those 14 and 15 year olds, who we're molding, who we're helping to get those life skills and those job skills that they need to succeed to then be able to get a summer job, great hours, some money in the pocket. I have fond memories of my first job, in an amusement park, and look where I am today!"
The project is expected to create 150 seasonal jobs. Besides relocation of the amusement park, there are infrastructure upgrades scheduled to be installed at the new site. The Albany Water Department-owned land is already being cleared. It is expected that Huck Finn's Playland will be up and running in time to open for the 2015 season.
In the words of Huck Finn's president Jeff Sperber: "Playland will live on."