SCHENECTADY — The city is exploring the possibility of allowing ice skating at Central Park pool.
While details are still being worked out and it’s unclear if the city will be able to move forward with the idea, crews began removing snow from the pool on Tuesday in order to examine the ice that accumulated from snow melt and recent rain storms.
“We’re just exploring — and I’m going to stress exploring because nothing is definite — whether or not we can use that pool area as an ice skating area for kids or adults,” said Paul LaFond, commissioner of general services.
LaFond said he suggested the idea to Mayor Gary McCarthy as a way to bring skating back to the park, which has been spotty in recent years due to warmer winters that have prevented the nearby Iroquois Lake from freezing over.
The pool is more shallow, meaning less water would have to freeze before skaters could begin using the rink. As of Tuesday morning, ice at the bottom of the pool was between 8 and 10 inches thick, LaFond said.
Still, he stressed key details must be worked out before moving forward, including whether freshwater can be delivered to the pool area, which is needed to create a smooth layer of ice following skating sessions.
It’s also unclear how the water would freeze and if those conditions would permit skating, LaFond said.
“Obviously it’s Mother Nature, so the ice isn’t smooth. It’s not like a Zamboni goes across that,” he said of the current conditions.
McCarthy also stressed that the city is only exploring the idea, adding that issues surrounding public safety and regulations have yet to be explored and would need to be addressed before anyone would be allowed to skate at the pool.
“We’re still kind of walking through what we’re going to do, what we’re not going to do and what the safety factors are,” he said.
The pool has been the subject of attention in recent weeks after plans were unveiled last year to replace the 56,000-square-foot facility that no longer meets state Department of Health standards with a new facility in the area of the nearby vacant tennis stadium.
On Monday, the City Council approved a $450,000 contract with Saratoga Associates, a design firm, to draft plans for a new pool, bathhouse, lighted trails connecting nearby park amenities and a parking lot. The project is expected to cost more than $3 million, which would be paid for using federal money received from the American Rescue Plan Act.
McCarthy said it’s unclear what will happen with the current pool once the new facility opens, but noted those plans would be worked out as the design progresses in the coming months.
Asked about a potential timeline for allowing ice skating at the pool, McCarthy said that also remains unclear.
“You tell me what the consistent temperature is going to be and I’ll tell you what we’ll do consistently,” he said. “If it’s frozen, then we’ll do ice skating. If it’s not, then I can’t plow it and I can’t allow people going on ice that’s thin.”
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.