Tear it down!
In an about-face decision, Community Board 11 unanimously voted in favor of removing Loreto Park’s underutilized roller rink, long deemed by Morris Park locals as a boondoggle.
“We support the dismantling of the roller hockey rink,” said Joanne Rubino, CB11’s chairwoman of Parks and Recreation.
Rubino sought support from the full board at the Oct. 24 general board meeting, arguing the rink, once a softball field, should be re-purposed.
“This is an eyesore,” said Rubino. “And it’s used for dog walkers and nothing.”
The feeling was mutual by board members, angry the rink sits empty each year, despite early fanfare by hockey leagues that once hosted regular games.
“Everybody goes inside there to have sex and smoke pot!” claimed member Sal Conforto.
The board’s motion means it can only issue a recommendation to the Parks Department, which would have to hold public hearings to determine whether a removal is in the community’s interest.
The motion is also an admission of error on the board’s part for originally backing the rink in 2000 to rid problem baseball leagues disrupting the neighborhood’s quality of life. “It was the biggest mistake this board’s ever made,” muttered veteran board member Joe Reda.
The approval came after a persuasive public relations campaign by several would-be hockey league organizers, who pitched their project to the Morris Park Community Association. The influential group soon passed on their support to the board. Much of their support for the rink stemmed from ridding a larger problem–reckless adults using the field to promote a for-profit baseball enterprise.
“When they were hitting the ball, they were breaking windows across the street,” recalled John Fratta, former CB11 district manager in attendance. “They were double-parking, triple-parking, urinating all over the place. It was totally out of control.”
But Fratta also admitted hockey league organizers “shanghaied” the board after making guarantees it would hold a steady membership, which did not happen.
Then-Councilwoman Madeline Provenzano pushed the City Council to earmark roughly $1 million towards the project, ripping out the grass field at the corner of the park.
Rubino is now fielding ideas for the rink’s replacement, planning on talking to the Morris Park Community Association for ideas, possibly including a tennis court or skateboard domain.
“We like to see a multi-purpose field,” said Al D’Angelo, CB11 member and MPCA member. “They want to put a grant down, if possible have a little league field and soccer field there so the children can utilize it.”