The north end of Central Park, just past the 11-acre Harlem Meer is due for a little updating. Totaling a $150 million budget that will replace the vastly outdated Lasker Rink and Pool, this will be the largest restoration project the park has had to date, according to the Central Park Conservancy. Situated between Harlem Meer and the Loch, the Lasker Rink and Pool opened in 1966 and has remained a fixture of the area for over 50 years. In the long winters, the rink offers two ovals for skating, one for hockey and the other for all-ages skating, but during the summer, the outdoor venue becomes an admission-free swimming pool.
What Are Some of the Major Changes Coming?
Lasker Rink and Pool will be seeing several much-needed updates that developers hope to marry it with the surrounding areas and create more spaces for year-round use. As it currently stands, it serves as a concrete wall between the Meer and the ravine. Other changes are to include:
- A free-flowing, natural landscape and a re-established watercourse. Waterflow into the culvert under the Lasker rink, as it currently stands, presents problems with overflow and congestion during inclement weather. The parking lot behind the rink subsequently floods often and this change will bring a welcome end to this.
- Pedestrian paths will be restored around the area of Huddlestone Arch.
- Boardwalks will be built around the watercourse to small islands and over a freshwater marsh, allowing visitors to enjoy every inch of it.
- Lasker Rink will be demolished and rebuilt, with the new pool and ice rink, including a recreational building with a green roof that blends into the surrounding area. The green roof will have the added benefit of helping to create more oxygen, absorbing excess rainwater, and insulating the establishment below.
- Materials from the old Lasker establishment will be recycled wherever possible, and the stairs and walkways will finally be brought up to ADA-compliant standards.
- The intent is to complete all of this with locally sourced and environmentally friendly materials.
What Will It Take to Complete the Project?
The restoration project is set to begin in the Spring of 2021, after the Trump Organization’s 32-year contract for the run of the skating rink comes to an end. At present, the full completion of the north end will take a total of three years, expected to finish fully in 2024. With a project slated for a LEED Gold standard certification, there are a number of points to consider going forward for any developers and contractors that jump on board:
- For one, a LEED Gold certification means lower use of energy, water, and other resources, as well as higher resale value, greater health for tenants and environment, and more.
- The use of locally sourced materials helps local businesses and makes the community part of the project.
- Recycled materials from the older structures reduces waste and maintains part of the local history of the area.
- In this three-year undertaking, the landscape around the current rink and pool will have to change drastically, including reworking natural streams, introducing new vegetation, and more.
- For the new structures and walkways, the aim will also be to use all of this to create walkways and places for people to frequent that make the area and the park as a whole more widely accessible.
With a little less than a year until ground breaks, bids are still coming in, and there may be more to come in terms of what the final plans will be.