Four Union College students are looking to establish an outdoor public ice rink in Schenectady, pitching the idea to the City Council during a meeting Monday evening.
The senior engineering students said they believe the city needs a convenient place to skate and are proposing to build ice rinks powered by solar panels at city parks such as Central Park, Jerry Burrell Park, Steinmetz Park or Woodlawn Park.
Sean Hanley, Steve Nadel, Matt Perillo and Ryan Tremblay said the idea is to have a full-scale ice rink that would feature a pavilion so it could be accessible year-round.
Hanley and Nadel presented a whopping $4 million proposal to the City Council, while Perillo and Tremblay pitched a smaller $35,000 project.
“Schenectady does not have an ice rink for youth,” Union professor Frank Wicks said at the council meeting. “Our proposal is a standard-sized ice rink in Central Park, along with community ice rinks at smaller parks across the city.”
Hanley and Nadel proposed an “NHL-sized ice rink” at Central Park’s Iroquois Lake. The project is estimated to cost $2 million for construction and $2 million for the solar panels, Hanley said.
“With solar panels, we’re completely cutting off electric costs, so it would be feasible to pay for as it continues to run,” Hanley said.
Nadel added that children do not have a place to skate in the city besides indoors at Union’s Messa Rink. Also, the ice rink at the Schenectady County Recreational Facility in Glenville is “constantly booked,” he said.
“The addition of an ice rink would greatly improve the quality of Central Park and utilize solar power to be ecofriendly,” he said.
Nadel said the Central Park rink would come with a flat rate for private groups and teams, and discounted prices for residents, along with fees for nonresidents.
The proposal by Perillo and Tremblay is more scaled back, with several “volleyball-sized ice rinks,” also using solar panels, in several parks in the city at $35,000 each.
Tremblay said the pair would like to see the rinks at Jerry Burrell Park in Hamilton Hill and Steinmetz Park in Goose Hill.
“We think it’s a much more cost effective way than a $4 million rink,” Perillo said. “A majority of the cost would go toward the pavilion to cover the rink, which is $20,000.”
Perillo said the ice rink would offer free admission and would seek to promote STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] education by teaching kids how refrigeration systems work.
All four students said they believe smaller ice rinks at city parks is a more realistic plan. They mentioned reaching out to the Golub Corp. and the future Rivers Casino and Resort at Mohawk Harbor for funding for the projects.
worth a look
Typically, the City Council fields complaints from residents at meetings. Mayor Gary McCarthy said on Tuesday that it was refreshing to have students come forward with ideas for consideration.
McCarthy, whose administration has more recently focused on rehabilitating the city’s parks, said he would consider a formal proposal for an outdoor solar panel ice rink at a park or two.
“We would look to review their ideas through the normal process that we look at projects,” he said. “We would look at it during the winter, and then next spring or next year at this time see if we can get the construction lined up and have a viable undertaking to create more opportunities in the parks.”
McCarthy said there are still a lot of unanswered questions regarding the students’ proposal but that the idea is in line with other projects happening in the city.
“We’re doing the tennis courts, Music Haven and making improvements to the golf course,” he said. “If we can do an ice rink, that would be great. And a greener footprint is always better.”
The city does not have an outdoor ice rink and the pond at Central Park hasn’t been open for skating for the past several years. There used to be an ice rink at Center City on State Street, but it was relocated to Glenville.
Union College’s Messa Rink, used by the Union College hockey team, is open to the public Mondays and Wednesdays from 12–1:30 p.m. and Sundays from 2–3:45 p.m.
“I think the rink by the airport has a very high utilization,” McCarthy said. “We have to look at if it would hurt that facility or complement it. There will also be some additional costs for the city in terms of maintenance and upkeep. Would there be a revenue stream to support that?”
Hanley said that before the group left the council meeting Monday night, Councilman Ed Kosiur suggested they visit Woodlawn Park Saturday morning when volunteers plan to install new playground equipment.
Kosiur said installing an ice rink at the park is Woodlawn’s proposed third phase as part of the park’s master plan. The first and second phases — a pool and a volleyball court — are already complete.
“Maybe we can be the pilot for what they’re thinking about,” Kosiur said. “As far as the cost, I would like to see us get materials donated to us. We can also use it as an outdoor pavilion and continue with the volleyball, and bring community events there with picnic tables.”
TrustCo Bank employees and volunteers also worked to clean up Woodlawn Park this summer. They put new sand on the volleyball court and installed new trash cans, park benches and a sign.
In addition to Woodlawn, the recently reactivated Recreation Advisory Commission has earmarked $250,000 in capital funds for playground equipment at Jerry Burrell, Quackenbush, Hillhurst, Riverside and Steinmetz parks.