Waterfront Committee approves skating rink in park at Spring St.

By Lincoln Anderson

Hudson River Park Trust officials presented revised plans for a new ice-skating rink for the park’s Village segment at a public hearing of Community Board 2’s Waterfront Committee last Monday night. While the Trust’s presentation might not have garnered a perfect score, it was enough to win the approval of the committee, which voted 7-2 in favor.

The rink has been the subject of controversy since first being presented by the Trust’s president, Robert Balachandran, to the Trust’s 13 directors on Sept. 25. At that time, plans called for a permanent rink with a permanent roof and structure enclosing it. But Board 2 and the community hadn’t had a chance to review the rink, sparking protest.

Subsequently, the Trust decided to postpone a vote on the rink by its board, though the Trust isn’t admitting it was because of protests by Assemblymember Deborah Glick and others, who charged that the Hudson River Park Act requires the community to be notified of such changes to the park plan. Speaking last week, Chris Martin, a Trust spokesperson, maintained the vote’s delay was because of logistical matters, like where the Zamboni (ice-smoothing vehicle) would park.

At Monday night’s meeting, the new rink design was presented by Marc Boddewyn, the Trust’s vice president for design and construction, and Martin. The rink’s dimensions would be 65 ft. by 152 ft., and the capacity of the ice would be 200 to 250 people. The rink would be 33 percent smaller than a National Hockey League-size rink. Boddwyn said the size is the maximum that would fit in the space, located at Spring St., sandwiched between the park’s esplanade and the bikeway.

While there might be occasion for some hockey playing, the rink will be mainly for skating, and for roller-skating in warm weather. Basketball hoops could also be added in warm weather, Boddewyn said.

The rink would be surrounded by an eight-ft.-tall wood or metal dasher board, the top four ft. of which would be clear Plexiglas, which would provide a wind buffer. To the north of the rink would be two covered trailers for a clubhouse and chilling systems. The only real permanent aspect of the rink would be its concrete base, Boddewyn said, though the rink is being presented as a permanent facility. The construction would be funded by $2.3 million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. Construction would be complete by March, too late for this year’s ice-skating season.

To audience questions as to why the rink couldn’t be put on Pier 40 just to the north, Martin said the Trust wants to keep the pier open for development, though he declined to say when the Trust plans to issue a new request for proposals for developers for the pier. The last attempt to find a private developer to build a park on 50 percent of the pier and develop the rest commercially ended in failure in June with the Trust picking none.

A temporary rink had been planned last winter at Pier 25 in Tribeca, but there wasn’t a sufficient power supply. However, sufficient electricity is available at the southeast corner of Pier 40 because a prison barge used to berth there, Boddewyn said.

Among members of the public who spoke most were against the rink at that location. These included Greenmarket founder Barry Benepe; Al Butzel, executive director of Friends of Hudson River Park; and Andrew Mark, who said he worked on the park’s original master plan.

“I share the concern that this is way too constricted a spot for the park [to have a rink]. With Pier 40, it’s very squeezed,” Mark said.

Stu Waldman, of the Federation to Save the Greenwich Village Waterfront, feared recreational uses getting out of hand along the waterfront — lacrosse and bocce could be next, he said.

“I use the esplanade and pier every day,” he said. “I love to see it open. I’m afraid you’re starting to close the waterfront.”

Shirley Secunda, a former Waterfront Committee member, though still on the board, wanted to know why the community never got a chance to decide what the money would be spent on. She asked if the money had to be for an ice rink?

Yes, said Boddewyn.

Members of the public for the rink included Barrett Gross, a board member of Pier Park & Playground and former member of the Greenwich Village Little League.

“This is a significant improvement for all the people of the community over what was there,” said Gross, noting he considers Chelsea Piers’ Sky Rink “quite expensive.” The Trust says admission fees for this rink will be cheaper than Sky Rink.

Saying she was an ice dancer, Marjorie Koons eagerly wanted to know about seating and sound.

The committee members in favor were Don MacPherson, Lawrence B. Goldberg, David Reck, Arthur Stoliar (“strongly in favor”), Helene Burgess, Tobi Bergman and Barbara Jeter. Opposed were two public members of the committee, Carol Feinman — who said she was concerned about the loudness of the rink’s sound system, among other things — and Bill Hine.

The issue will be voted on by Community Board 2’s full board at its meeting on Thurs., Oct. 23, at 6:30 p.m. at St. Vincent’s Hospital, 170 W. 12th St., cafeteria.

” width=”150″ height=”42″ border=”0″>

” width=”150″ height=”47″ border=”0″>