Locals want to tear down Loreto Park rink for soccer, softball field

Locals are now pushing for this little used Loreto Playground roller rink to be torn down in favor of an Astroturf field.
File Photo

A local Morris Park group has rolled out a plan to replace Loreto Playground’s controversial concrete hockey rink with a multipurpose youth sports field.

But it remains to be seen if the community will be able to cobble together the cash to fund it.

Leaders at the Morris Park Community Association and Community Board 11 are pushing the city Department of Parks and Recreation to ax the roller rink and build an Astroturf field in its stead. The field would have both bases for youth softball and goal posts for youth soccer.

Rink fanfare fades

“We have a lot of multi-culture here, with Italians, Albanians, Spanish, and they all love soccer,” said MPCA President Tony Signorile. “Our proposal allows kids to be able to play in their own neighborhood.”

The roller rink was built with much fanfare in 2005, a result of a $1 million allocation from then Councilwoman Madeleine Provenzano. The rink replaced a grass softball field that hosted an adult league that locals at the time complained made a mess of the park by drinking and littering.

But after the Morris Park Hockey League folded two years later, the rink has since spent most of its days as a dogwalk and hangout for nighttime vagrants, charge locals on Community Board 11, which voted unanimously in November to tear the rink down.

“No one uses that rink, besides dogwalkers,” Joanne Rubino, chairwoman of CB11’s parks committee, said at a recent meeting. “There’s no question it has to go.”

Quest for $$$

Morris Parkers are now shopping their plan around to local politicians in an attempt to gain funding. At least one pol, State Sen. Jeff Klein, said he’s willing to look at ways to finance the plan.

“I’m open to exploring funding opportunities to transform the rink at Loreto Park into a space that would better serve local residents of all ages,” Klein said.

But rink-reviling locals may face an uphill battle with the cash-strapped Parks Department, which has yet to even assess how much it would cost to tear the rink down.

“We have no current plan to change the configuration of the park,” said agency spokesman Nathan Arnosti.

Community activists are staying optimistic. They’re looking for inspiration at nearby Van Nest Park, where Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and the City Council came up with $1.3 million for a renovation.

“If we can get the funding, there’d be no reason for Parks not to do it; it’d be a no brainer,” said Tony Vitaliano, CB11’s chairman. “They get the money and the people get what they want.”

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail him at bkochman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.

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