It looks like the first water to fill McCarren Park Pool in decades will be of the frozen variety: The City Council has ponied up $300,000 to help turn the Greenpoint swimming hole into a part-time skating rink.
Depending on how much funding it gets, the planned ice rink could be as big as 30,000 square feet — nearly the size of Central Park’s famed Wollman Rink, which draws about 4,000 skaters daily in the winter months.McCarren Pool, which closed in 1984 and recently played host to summer concertgoers, could enter the ice age as early as Fall 2007, said city Parks Department Pool Manager Eric Peterson. “The ice rink is another way to improve what has been for two decades a derelict blight on the community,” Peterson said.
Restoration Proposal Floated
Plans for the rink follow a push by the city to return the 70-year-old pool to its original glory as a summer cool-off spot. The $40 million restoration project is still in its early stages, but Councilmember David Yassky, D-Brooklyn, said he would like to see the pool back in business by Summer 2009.
The rink plans reverberate amid noise complaints from area residents about the pool’s use as a concert venue. This past summer, live music acts like the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, and performance artists like AGORA Dance, used the pool as an outdoor performance space â€” bringing joy to visitors but headaches to neighbors.
At a Nov. 29 community meeting on the pool’s future, residents complained about high decibel levels.
“We want the noise to stop,” said Stephen Szczepanek, who lives across the street from the pool.
Despite community concern, the Parks Department began accepting permit applications for the 2007 summer concert season Dec. 1, and at least two promoters have submitted proposals. Peterson said he would set volume guidelines. But the shows, he said, will go on.
Concert revenue, though, will do little to fund the $40 million pool restoration because the Parks Department charges less than $5,000 per show. Live Nation Vice President Sam Kinken, who is a Williamsburg resident, said even with the low fee, his group actually lost money on its 2006 series of performances.
“It has never been about the money for us,” Kinken said. “It’s about getting water back in the pool.”
While restoration plans remain frozen, plans for the ice rink are moving ahead, as officials seek a concessionaire to run the operation and $400,000 more in city funding, Peterson said.
Planners are looking at Central Park’s Lasker Pool, which already doubles as a winter ice rink. Following Lasker’s lead, the city will have to buy compressors to freeze the ice as well as a Zamboni smoothing machine, for what officials hope be a seasonal staple at McCarren Park — even after the pool is restored.
“We are about halfway there,” Peterson said of the rink plans.