Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bronx Board 8 "deplores" process with temporary ice rink in Van Cortlandt

Here's a story from this week's Riverdale Review and Bronx Press. But before we get to that, let us provide you with an update:

Community Board 8 overwhelmingly passed a resolution at last night's (Tuesday) general board meeting saying they "deplore" the parks department's decision to circumvent the public-review process by introducing a smaller, temporary rink that only needs a permit to operate. The board is planning a public forum to discuss the ice rink--both the temporary permit rink and the full concession rink--for January with the community, though a date has yet to be finalized. We will have a full story on the actions of Board 8 in next week's paper.

By Brendan McHugh 

As the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation continues to negotiate with Ice Rink Events to try and bring the boroughs only public skating rink to Van Cortlandt Park, their efforts to appease the community may have only enraged them more. 

A number of Community Board 8 members have expressed outrage over a new plan for a smaller—“mini”—29-day rink that skips public scrutiny. 

“There are a lot of disturbed people,” said one member of the board, who wanted to be kept anonymous until the general board meeting Tuesday night. 

The Tuesday, Dec. 13 meeting at the Rivedale YM/YWHA, which is after press time, is the community board’s best chance to collect public input on the skating rink. 

The board had scheduled—and subsequently cancelled—five meetings over the past few months as they attempted to hold a public meeting to discuss the larger, 15-year rink. However, with very little details, they did not want to hold a meeting. 

Community Board 8 has a resolution they plan to vote upon Tuesday night that, if passed, would say the board “deplores DPR’s decision to circumvent the public-review process…” 

Jump below for the full story.
Another board member speculated that another resolution could be submitted that would go further, possibly calling for the “mini” rink project to be abandoned altogether. 

Instead of the 15-year seasonal rink, as the city wants to install eventually, this proposal is for 29 days only, scheduled through a city permit. Because it’s a one-time event, the city doesn’t need any approval from the public. 

Some of the information that has come out of this smaller rink has been costs. Skate rental will be $5, and admission is between $5 and $8. Operating hours Sunday through Thursday are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 

Comparatively, the Murray Memorial Skating Rink in Yonkers has $4 skate rental and $7 admission, while their hours very greatly day to day. The biggest difference between the two rinks, besides the size of the rinks, is that Murray’s is an indoor rink while the Bronx rink will be outdoors, next to the elevated No. 1 train. 

The rink will be about 45 percent the size of a regulation hockey rink. 

Some details still remain left unidentified. 

“We don’t have anything more on the food, for instance,” Community Board 8 parks committee chairman Bob Bender said. 

A parks representative at last month’s parks committee said food will be minimal, but didn’t expand.
As for the meeting Tuesday night, Bender wouldn’t take a guess as to which way the board will vote on the resolution. 

“I never speculate,” he said. 

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who plans on speaking to the board about the rink Tuesday night, has been upset over the lack of opportunity the public has had to chime in about the plans. 

“The city has managed to turn something that could really be great for our community into an embarrassment because of the city has handled the process,” he said. 

Dinowitz stressed that he would love to see a skating rink in the Bronx, though the city needs to reevaluate how they go about doing that. 

“Every community has the right to know what’s being proposed and a right to comment on it,” he insisted. 

He said he would tell the board that he supports a skating rink in the Bronx, but they need to let the city know that they will not accept being ignored when it comes to issues and developments in their community. 

The temporary rink for this season still has no start time. The parks department needs to wait for Con Edison to upgrade the electrical infrastructure of the area, and they have no timeline for when that will even begin. A Con Edison spokesman said the harsh summer weather set them behind schedule.

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