Today’s news:

Moving closer to new skating rink

By Helen Klein

The groundbreaking for Prospect Park’s ambitious Lakeside Center could take place in about a year’s time.

The current economic state of the city has caused timing to be “a little fluid right now,” according to Regina Hartfield, senior vice president for programs & community outreach of the Prospect Park Alliance.

However, Hartfield told members of Community Board 14’s Community Environment Committee, gathered at the board office, 810 East 16th Street for the committee’s October meeting, that the group was hoping that the groundbreaking would occur in “late 2009 or 2010,” with construction beginning in 2010.

The project is not moving forward as quickly as had originally been anticipated. Committee Chair Robert Newman, noted, “I have the idea it’s kind of behind schedule,” referring back to a presentation in early 2006, in which Prospect Park Administrator Tupper Thomas had told the same committee that the project could be completed by 2010.

“Not necessarily,” responded Hartfield. “Probably, but it’s really, really moving in earnest now, and we’re really excited about it.”

The project, which is expected to cost $39 million, includes replacing the old Wollman skating rink with two new ones as well as restoring the original Olmsted-Vaux landscaping design for the lake shore, something Hartfield called, “one of the most exciting things about the project.”

The overall goal is to have a “year-round recreational facility,” said Hartfield, “so that the rinks when they are not ice, in the spring and the summer, will become water play areas, will become roller skate surfaces for individuals who are interested in enjoying it in that respect.”

There will be a catering facility in the new building planned for the center, said Hartfield. It will also house a classroom, “to supplement what we have with our Brooklyn Academy of Science and the Environment High School,” as well as “changing rooms for the hockey players and any of the leagues that are there.

“We’re really, really excited about how this is going to reshape and reuse the area,” Hartfield added.

The design goes beyond aesthetics. Hartfield said that the new building is “being designed as a green building. We’d like to have a live roof that people can walk across and enjoy the views of the lake. It will serve as the centerpiece and an entry point, an orientation point, for our visitors, which is something we don’t really have right now.”

The parking area will be moved as part of the project, with the new building located on the current parking lot.

Will the construction impact skaters who currently use the facility? The Alliance’s “hope is that we don’t to close the rink for more than a season,” Hartfield said.

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