Ice cream trucks replaced the Central Park concession stand this year — and almost no one noticed.
Dozens of parents at the park Friday said they had no idea the park even had a concessions stand.
The concession stand, called the Casino, closed due to code violations, Mayor Gary McCarthy said.
The vendor had agreed to pay for the repairs, but couldn’t afford it, McCarthy said. So the building was closed for the season, and city officials instead offered permits for food trucks.
They painted numbers on the roadway behind the Tiny Tots playground, and assigned each truck a space. And people in the park didn’t seem to miss the concession stand. Many brought their own meals, and Schenectady Inner City Ministry provided free lunches to children at the pavilion, as well.
Most of those who knew there was a concessions stand said they had never purchased anything there.
“We tend to bring our own food, so I don’t think we’d buy anything,” said parent Jennifer Carp.
Others said they were completely satisfied by Mr. Ding-A-Ling, which did steady business all afternoon.
“The kids enjoy the park,” said parent Evelyn Aulet, who had no interest in taking her children indoors for food. “That’s why we come — for the park.”
There was another thing missing from Central Park this summer — paddleboats.
The Casino operator used to run the boats, taking the small fee and unlocking the boats for those who wanted to play on the lake. With no one in the Casino, the boats stayed locked all summer.
Parents said they had seen the locked boats near the water and wondered why there was no way to rent them.
“I knew they had them,” said parent Marta Rothenberger, whose children are too young for the boats, but she said she’d love to come to the park with her husband for a boat ride.
Parent Cynthia Palleschi also wanted to ride.
“We’ve seen them out there, and we’ve said that would be fun,” she said.
McCarthy said he wants to run the boats — but it’s not free.
“Some of that becomes a staffing issue,” he said, “and there are some maintenance issues.”
He would like the city to buy new boats.
“There is a revenue stream, if you can run it. They could pay for themselves,” he said.
But he added the city might have to dredge the lake again to make it more attractive to boaters.
“It all boils down to money. We’re juggling different things,” he said. “Last year, we did the pool — we put a new bottom on the pool. That’s where the focus went.”