Plan to renovate Central Park North rink and pool opposed by local skaters and swimmers

February 19, 2020

Rendering courtesy of Susan T. Rodriguez Architecture | Design and the Central Park Conservancy

The $150 million plan to build a new pool and ice rink at the northern end of Central Park is facing backlash from local swimmers and skaters. Last September, the Central Park Conservancy revealed a project to replace the aging Lasker Rink and Pool and create space for year-round recreation. But a group of hockey players and swimmers is asking the conservancy to revise its plan, which they claim would reduce the space they can use, eliminating some of the programs offered.

Constructed in 1966, the pool and rink obstruct flows of “people, views, and water” throughout the park, according to the conservancy. By demolishing and replacing Lasker, the conservancy hopes to eliminate the current barrier between the Harlem Meer and the Ravine, which would allow the watercourse to flow directly to the Meer and prevent flooding.

“The project will repair the damaged landscape, improve the ecology of the north end, and re-establish long-severed connections to one of the Park’s most picturesque areas,” the conservancy said in a press release last September.

Exterior views of the proposed new pool and rink; Renderings courtesy of Susan T. Rodriguez Architecture | Design and the Central Park Conservancy

The project includes a boardwalk that will transform into a skating ribbon during the winter season, while acting as a place for fishing and canoeing in the summer. A splash pad will be built at the southern end of the new pool’s deck. The plan would leave one rink for skaters and reduce the size of the pool by 25 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal.

As of Wednesday, more than 4,600 people have signed an online petition to save the Lasker Pool and Rink from replacement. According to the petition, cutting the size of rinks from two to one would eliminate hockey programs, including the “North Stars hockey program for players with special needs and the only all-female hockey league in New York.”

“Any plan that downsizes the ice skating facilities at Lasker will penalize all of the Central Park ice hockey players, their opponents, and their fans,” the petition continues.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2021 and last three years. Both Lasker Rink and Wollman Rink are operated by the Trump Organization. The licensing agreement between the organization and the city expires in 2021, but it’s unclear who will control the facilities after the contract ends, according to the WSJ.

The conservancy’s plan has been approved by the community board and will next head to the city’s Public Design Commission for a vote on March 16. According to amNY, the vote was originally scheduled for Jan. 21, but has been postponed twice.

[Via WSJ]


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