The Community Board 1 Parks and Waterfront Committee met with Evan George, a project manager for the Parks Department Revenue Division, on Wednesday, November 16, to discuss the RFP.
Members expressed at the meeting that the most important specification in the RFP is that the winning bidder construct the largest rink possible in the available space.
According to preliminary blueprints presented at the meeting, the skating rink will be built in McCarren Park’s pool deck area, known as “the beach,” which is roughly 160 by 80 feet.
“Certainly we want it to be as big as possible and we'll put language in there to get concessionaires to give us that,” George said.
But he added, “obviously if someone says ‘well, we'll do a smaller rink but we'd like to have a really nice seating area’ or something else that we haven't thought of then it's good, I think, to have that.”
The seasonal ice rink will open in the beginning of winter and close at the start of the pool season. The RFP, which will specify a 12-year lease on the facility, will require the concessionaire to work with the neighborhood to allot a certain number of hours per week for community program use, such as school classes, George said.
The Parks Department hopes to have the RFP issued at the end of December with a lease agreement going to the comptroller’s office for review sometime next summer.
In addition, George said “the city’s under no obligation to follow through and have a concession in place if we don’t get quality responses to the RFP.”
The idea for the community to purchase the ice rink and rent its operations out to a concessionaire was tossed around at the meeting.
Katherine Thompson, whose husband is on the Parks and Waterfront Committee and who is a member of the McCarren Park Ice Skating Alliance, said while her group was researching skating rinks, they were told that the RFP would not receive any responses.
“We were told that nobody would really want to bid on this RFP and that it would sort of be left to fallow,” Thompson said after the meeting ended. “So we were under the impression that we wouldn’t be able to get an ice skating rink unless we somehow came up with funds to at least, say, purchase the rink itself.”
It was said at the meeting that to purchase the rink would cost roughly $500,000, and to construct it would bring the price closer to $1 million.
However, George said the RFP should look attractive to the three or four concessionaires currently operating the other rinks around the city.
Thompson said the community would continue to discuss submitting a proposal, despite the cost.
“The idea would be, in order to sort of keep monies within the neighborhood,"she said, "if you could create a concession that somehow the profits were fed back into the neighborhood, it would help support and offset costs.
“And I think it would be neat if the community could control it by keeping the monies flowing in circles around the community,” she added.
But regardless of the outcome, “all I want is ice skating,” Thompson said.