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Central Park Conservancy on the Harlem Meer restoration project

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, March 11, 2021, the following resolution passed with a vote of 37 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; and

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

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

WHEREAS, Community Board Five (CB5) recommended approval of the 2019 plan that included 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 CPC is making several changes to the 2019 proposal to make it more accessible, increase the green space and closely review the planting plans to minimize the number of trees that must be removed; and

WHEREAS, 51 Trees will be removed, yet over 100 trees will be planted; and

WHEREAS, The boardwalk will be made of steel grating and over the water and marshland plantings to integrate a less obtrusive walkway that can provide rain drainage into the water below; and

WHEREAS, The concrete edge that was added along the shoreline in the 1940s to create the path will be removed, so the water’s edge will once again meet the rock outcrop; and

WHEREAS, The original large island will be replaced by a series of smaller islands in this proposal; and

WHEREAS, The new pool and rink will still have a smaller footprint but will be accessible for all ages and abilities with the zero-drop sloped pool entry; and

WHEREAS, The previously proposed elevator for accessibility will no longer be needed after FDNY discussions, and instead they have a revised design with operational and emergency access from the south end of the facility at the pool deck level; and

WHEREAS, During the winter months, the pool will be covered to become the skating rink that will be surrounded by a rubberized turf, and a multi-use “outdoor room” in between seasons; and

WHEREAS, The design of the outdoor room was altered to be at grade, now that the platform is being raised to the level of the pool deck; and

WHEREAS, Members of the committee reiterated the prior concerns regarding signage and naming but have been assured by CPC that the naming rights would go to an individual and not a corporation and the signage would be minimal and contextual; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five felt that given the number of individuals who will use the facility at any given time, having four gender neutral rooms is woefully inadequate; and

WHEREAS, CPC once again presented a thorough, well-prepared proposal that is respectful of the landmark and consistent with the park’s use, 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, and continues to request transparency and further communication regarding plans for the naming rights and signage of the rink and any associated elements.

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