The BPC Ice Rink Is Open, with Some Help From Mother Nature

On Saturday, Dec. 8, the first full day that the rink was open, fog masked views of the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty, but didn't spoil the fun. Photo by Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Battery Park City's new "Liberty View Ice Rink" opened at 3 p.m. on Friday, after a cold snap during the week helped the rink's operators get four inches of ice to form. 

"We worked through the night the last couple of nights to get it done," said rink manager George Haviland.

Within 30 minutes of opening, the rink had about 20 skaters testing out the ice, Haviland said Friday afternoon. 

The ice is being chilled with 950 gallons of “corn-based liquid refrigerant," according the Battery Park City Authority spokesman Matt Monahan. 

Haviland said his company filled the rink with water from a fire hydrant, thanks to the loan of a fire hose from the FDNY's Engine Company 24 on Houston Street.

"The fire house was nice enough to loan us their hose, which made it easier to flood [the rink] a little quicker," Haviland said. "We had brought our own hoses from New Jersey, but they don’t fit the New York hydrants."

Now there are 550 pairs of ice skates in a tent at Wagner Park, at the southern tip of Battery Park City, waiting to be laced up.

Sawyor Plath, 7, wasn't so sure that skating was for her when she arrived with her parents on the Saturday after the rink opened. But in time, tears turned to broad smiles and she made her way, gingerly, along the ice's edge.

"We got the skates on her and got her on the ice which was about a half-hour accomplishment," said her mother, Lina. "And if I sing I embarrass her and she skates away. So that's our tactic."

Plath noted that the rink is important to local families, especially because so many were displaced after Hurricane Sandy. "It's hard in the winter in Battery Park City to find things to do outside with the kids," she said. "And this is important not just to keep families together but to keep the community together."

The Authority had tried unsuccessfully in 2010 and 2011 to find an operator for an ice rink in Battery Park City, after the company that had previously run a winter skating rink on the ball fields opted not to return. The Authority was looking for someone to run a rink again on the fields or in Wagner or Rockefeller Parks. Luckily, Monahan said, the new operator chose Wagner Park.

“If [they] had chosen the ball fields, the whole project would have just been demolished because of the conditions of the fields,” Monahan said. The fields were flooded during Sandy and it is unknown when they can reopen.

The 60-by-120-foot rink is the same size as the rink at Rockefeller Center, Monahan said. It will be open from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. throughout the week, and may run until March, Monahan said. Skating will cost $7 for children 12 and younger, and $10 for adults and teens during the week; $15 for adults and teens on the weekends.