Dec. 4, 2015 By Christian Murray
The group that oversees Long Island City’s waterfront parks has big plans to put down an ice skating rink in Hunters Point South Park.
Rob Basch, president of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, told members of Community Board 2 on Thursday that the rink would take up a significant portion of the oval and would cost in the vicinity of $500,000 per year.
Basch said the Conversancy aims to open it by next winter.
“We have to go big or go home, and it has to be done properly with all the amenities,” Basch said.
Basch went to the CB 2 meeting to provide the public with an outline of the group’s achievements since it was formed 18 months ago, from its movie series in the park to dancing. However, he was asked whether there were plans for a rink.
He said some of the costs would be offset in part by admission prices and skate rentals as well as by setting up a market area for vendors. Admission for residents is likely to be free.
However, the goal is to snag a big corporate sponsor. Basch believes that the rink would provide enormous brand exposure.
The group has had discussions with Hunters Point South developers Related Companies, who are supportive of the concept, he said.
Related could not immediately be reached for comment.
Coffeed/LIC Landing, which donates heavily to the Hunters Point Parks Conversancy, also backs the concept.
“The rink will make the park more active and more engaging,” Coffeed founder and chief executive Frank “Turtle” Raffaele said.
Basch said that the group has met with experts from Ice Rink Events, an organization that operates rinks throughout New York.
“They are very excited about a rink going in the park,” Basch said.
The rink would have to be protected by a tent since the park is very exposed to the wind and sun, which could damage the ice. Furthermore, the freezing cold could be unappealing to families with young kids.
The tent would be clear to ensure that the waterfront views remain completely unblemished. The rink would be up just for the winter months.
Basch believes the timing is right. He said that Mitchell Silver, Parks Commissioner, has challenged community-based organizations to “reimagine winter,” arguing that parks are under utilized in the winter.
Parks spokesperson Meghan Lalor said that the agency would need to green light any ice rink plans for the property.
The concept of putting an ice skating rink in the park has been discussed for the better part of a decade. Former CB 2 Chairman Joe Conley has been advocating for a rink since Hunters Point South Park was first proposed.
Conley said the park is run by the City, which has made it easier for event programming and ventures such as this.
“This is probably the best park in New York City,” Conley said.