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Central Park Conservancy Harlem Meer redevelopment

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, October 10, 2019, the following resolution passed with a vote of 33 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, Central Park is an urban park located in Manhattan and bounded by 59th Street, 110th Street, 5th Avenue and Central Park West, constructed between 1853 and 1876, and designed by famed landscape architects Olmsted and Vaux.

WHEREAS, Central Park was designated a scenic landmark by the Landmark Preservation Commission in 1974; and

WHEREAS, The Central Park Conservancy plans to restore the landscape around the Harlem Meer at 106th street; and

WHEREAS, The plans also include building a new recreational facility to replace the existing Lasker pool and rink with a new pool and rink with public amenities such as a food and beverage kiosk, public bathrooms, seating, decks to be open year round; and

WHEREAS, The Central Park Conservancy is applying to make several major changes to the northeast corner of the park, including

WHEREAS, The project is expected to start in 2021 and be completed by 2024; and

WHEREAS, The Lasker pool and rink was built in the late 1960's: and

WHEREAS, The current conditions of this park area including the pool and rink are in desperate need of repair and upgrades, as the pool is plagued by major leaks, the flow of traffic is poorly designed, accessibility to the pool and rink is extremely poor, and the overall design is incongruent with the rest of the park; and

WHEREAS, The coolant used for the rink ice will soon no longer be available; and

WHEREAS, The topography and water circulation between the ravine, the lock and the meer need a better fit with the surrounding areas; and

WHEREAS, The new pool and rink will have a smaller footprint and slightly smaller capacity, while still remaining a monumental pool; and

WHEREAS, The pool house will be built into the slope of the existing topography, enhancing climate control throughout the year, using natural materials such as stone, wood and metal; and

WHEREAS, The pool house will have a "roof" of eco-friendly soil and grass; and

WHEREAS, The pool house will have glass walls opening on to the pool decks, using special glazing to prevent collisions with birds; and

WHEREAS, Signage and naming rights have not been disclosed and have raised some questions although the Central Park Conservancy has made assurances that the pool and rink will not be named after a corporate entity but rather after an individual donor; and

WHEREAS, The extent of signage to be installed at the pool and rink area should be minimal so as to be tasteful and contextual to the natural setting of the park; and

WHEREAS, The agreement between naming rights recipients and the Central Park Conservancy for all parts of the project, including the pool and rink, the boardwalk, the pavilion and any other area, should be made public and should be transparent so as to disclose the name of the recipient duration for the naming rights, and the specific amount of signage to be allocated to each name; and

WHEREAS The natural sloping area south of the pool will be restored so that the north flowing stream currently re-routed through pipes to the Meer, will be brought to the surface as it was prior to the current pool and will be visible to and usable by the public as originally intended and built by Olmstead and Vaux; and

WHEREAS, A boardwalk will be built across part of the Harlem Meer to facilitate fishing, nature education, wildlife observation, and strolling; and

WHEREAS, All materials used are complementary to the existing landscape; and

WHEREAS, The goal of this project is to integrate architecture and landscaping in the spirit of Olmstead and Vaux’s design; and

WHEREAS, The projects three year disruption in that area will be compensated by the many years of usage resulting from this massive project; and

WHEREAS, The Central Park Conservancy has done a robust outreach to various users of the area to be redeveloped, including ice skating users, schools and coaches, bird watchers, and other community boards, and

WHEREAS, The adjacent communities directly impacted by this project, both on its disruption as well as its completed results, are in favor of the proposal, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the application by the Central Park Conservancy to redevelop the Lasker Pool and Rink site at the Harlem Meer in Central Park, with some concern as to the naming and signage of the various elements.

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