Finally, it’s a power play worth cheering for at the proposed Kingsbridge National Ice Center in the Bronx.
And the win here — in economic growth, jobs, tax revenue, and ice rinks for kids, families and others who’ve never had access to them before — could be far bigger than any hockey game.
Under a proposal by a development team led by former New York Rangers star Mark Messier and developer Kevin Parker, the armory in this working-class neighborhood would become the site of nine ice rinks, plus a small arena, some office space and community programming facilities.
But after a New York Supreme Court judge refused last month to order the city to turn over the armory’s lease over to the ice center’s developers, saying they didn’t have the money to build, the situation at Kingsbridge looked bleak. Then, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans last week to include funds for the ice center project in his new proposed state budget: $108 million. That would fill the funding gap the developers of the project have been trying to close for the first phase of reconstruction.
Now, it’s up to the state to follow through by making sure the money ends up in the budget. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie backs the project, and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. has been pushing it since the start. That support should help. Beyond that, however, the puck is now on NYC’s ice. City officials must finalize and turn over the armory’s lease to the development team. There shouldn’t be anything stopping that now.
If all goes well, those close to the project say, demolition could start in the next four to six months.
But Parker and Messier must not stop there. Until now, their stated reason for not being able to secure private financing was the lack of a lease. The burden will be on them to make sure future phases are fully funded in advance, so there aren’t any more stops in the action.
This project, key to future enhancements in the Kingsbridge area, is too important to be delayed any further.
It’s time to drop the puck and start the game.