Ice skating and hockey could be coming back to the Kensico Dam Plaza’s reflecting pool. Some of the money for the rinks is already allocated, the rest of it will be included in Astorino’s $300 million capital proposal.
County Executive Rob Astorino Tuesday afternoon pitched a plan to bring two outdoor ice rinks — one for recreational skating and the other a regulation-sized hockey rink — to the park’s 100,000 square foot reflecting pool, which has sat dry since 2007. If approved, the rinks would open next November, Astorino said.
“As I saw this pit, and then envisioned the reflecting pool and the fountains, I thought, what about skating rinks here? Because there used to be skating here, many decades ago,” said Astorino, alongside members of the New York Rangers, Archbishop Stepinac hockey team and various county officials. “This used to be just naturally frozen and people would come and skate.”
The majority of the rink project would be paid for by funds already allocated to the park by the county Board of Legislators for other improvement projects, he said. The rest would come out of a $300 million capital plan the county executive plans on pitching later this week, with much of its planned spending focused on parks.
The project would go hand-in-hand with $4 million in reflecting pool repairs already approved after some back and forth late last year, Astorino said. For example, the piping for the new reflecting pool and fountains could be laid alongside the piping for the ice rinks.
The reflecting pool would be ready by the spring of 2018.
“If we were ever going to be able to do something that would transform this park, that would be a once in a generation or more opportunity, it would be now,” Astorino said.
The hockey rink would sit along the south end of the reflecting pool. The second rink would actually be two smaller rinks on either side joined together by two 30-foot wide lanes.
In total, the rink would cover approximately 50,000 square feet of the pool.
Astorino said a partnership Westchester has with the New York Rangers, where the team puts on clinics for youth players as part of county’s Winter Wonderland program at the dam, would continue with the new rinks.
He also said he hopes local high schools would play games at the rink.
Adam Graves, who won the Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994 and had his number retired by the team in 2009, said his favorite part of the Winter Wonderland events — where the county puts a rink on the grass at the park — is the family aspect.
“We all live for our families, we all live for our kids. What greater gift can you give than something like this, where you’re going to create memories that these kids are never going to forget?” he said. “I know when my family is in town I’m definitely going to get them out here.”
Astorino said he plans to send legislation for the project to the County Board of Legislators this week, as some of the money already approved needs to be reshuffled and plans changed.
“Kensico Dam Plaza is our Central Park. It’s where everybody congregates,” he said. “I think this would just enhance the beauty and the quality of life here in Westchester.”