Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bronx Residents Upset Over Bloomberg/Parks Dept Ice Staking Rink Slight

People enjoying the ice skating  at Bryant Park in  Manhattan.
People enjoying the ice skating at Bryant Park in Manhattan where admission is free for people who bring skates. In the Bronx admission for a temporary rink to be installed on a handball court In Van Cortlandt Park near Broadway and West 242nd Street will be $5 dollars. Daniel Biederman, head of the Bryant Park Restoration Corp is behind both rinks.

During his State of the City Address on January 19th last year, Mayor Bloomberg promised the 1.4 million Bronx residents - the only borough that does not have a public ice skating rink - they would have one this year but that has not materialized. In an effort to deflect criticism from Bloomberg's upcoming address the administration is planning to erect a small temporary rink for 29 days. Despite repeated assurances from the Parks Department that the rink issue would come before the board, Bronx community Board 8 were recently informed that was not going to happen.

On Tuesday, CB 8 overwhelmingly passed a resolution deploring the parks department for circumnavigating the public-review process by introducing a smaller, temporary rink that only needs a permit to operate.

- Geoffrey Croft

Schematic for the proposed Riverdale ice skating rink in Van Cortlandt Park.
Transparency in the Bloomberg administration is once again being called into question over the Van Cortlandt Park ice skating rink issue. This time controversy has arisen over a plan to build a temporary rink in time for Bloomberg's next State of City Address. Last year from Staten Island, Bloomberg announced the city's intention of allowing the building a seasonal rink in the park. However the administration did not see fit to inform the community. They finally presented the plan to Bronx Community Board 8’s Parks & Recreation Committee on Feb. 23, more than a month after Bloomberg's announcement.


The Bronx could finally be getting the ice skating rink that Mayor Bloomberg promised the borough last January - but without formal community input. Local leaders are upset they won't get to vet how the facility is run, according to the New York Daily News.

"The agency has decided to circumvent the public process," said Bob Bender, Community Board 8 parks committee chairman. "It concerns me greatly."

The Parks Department had planned to install a full-size rink on unused tennis courts in Van Cortlandt Park by November, but the agency is still negotiating with the company slated to run the facility, and the proposal has yet to go before the city Franchise Concession and Review Committee.

In the meantime, Parks has asked the company to install a smaller rink in Van Cortlandt Park in January and operate it for as few as four weeks under a “temporary” permit not subject to public review, said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.

"We are trying to do what we can to honor a longstanding request from the Bronx," he said. "Skating is a great way to exercise and enjoy the outdoors."

Bloomberg promised the Bronx a rink in his State of the City speech last January, thrilling borough ice skating fans. The Bronx is the only borough without a public rink, while Manhattan has five and Brooklyn three.

Parks last spring selected Ice Rink Events - the company that operates the Bryant Park rink in Manhattan - to build a full-size rink in Van Cortlandt Park for use during the winter and operate it under contract for 15 years.

Board 8 intends to hold a public hearing when the full-size rink proposal is ready for review and brought before the FCRC.

"We want to know how much it will cost and how much rink time will be available to the public as opposed to private schools in the community," Bender said.

But he claims Parks is now skating past the review process.

Benepe said the full-size rink has been delayed due to technical issues and noted that Parks recently presented its temporary plan to Board 8, even though no disclosure was required.

But Geoffrey Croft of New York City Park Advocates slammed the agency for "pushing through a poor substitute."

Croft claims Parks is desperate to install a rink before the mayor's next State of the City, in January. "It seems like they need the mayor to save face and mean to avoid community input," Croft said.

Parks plans to charge $5-8 for admission and $5 for skate rental at the temporary rink, said Bender. Benepe said the full-size rink plan enjoys "overwhelming support" from locals, citing an online survey conducted by Board 8.

But Croft called the proposed prices at the temporary rink unreasonable, noting that the Bryant Park rink frequented by "wealthy people and tourists" is free.

Read More:

Bronx is only borough without public ice rink
New York Daily News - December 13 2011 - By Daniel Beekman

Bronx Press Politics - December 14, 2011 - By Brendan McHugh

El Diario NY - December 14, 2011 - Por Gloria Medina/EDLP

A Walk In The Park - March 17, 2011 - By Geoffrey Croft

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