Northeast Corner of Central Park Will Change Dramatically, New Renderings Show

The Central Park Conservancy released new renderings of its $150 million plan to redesign the northeast corner of the park, including the pool and ice skating rink and surrounding area.

Current layout.

New design.

The Lasker Pool and rink now essentially blocks the northern section of the park from the ravine area to the south, making it onerous to walk around the area and connect the natural sections. Water from the ravine that was previously blocked will flow into the Meer again, and a path that ran through the area will also be reconnected.

The new design will also create a boardwalk area across several islands and a freshwater marsh connected to the Meer.

“Located within the curvilinear frame of the original design of the Park Drive at the north end of Central Park, the project proposes to replace the aging and flood-prone existing recreational structure with a new swimming and skating experience that is seamlessly integrated into the Park’s landmarked landscape,” the conservancy says in a statement.

The project is being funded by the city and the conservancy. Groundbreaking is set for Spring 2021.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 36 comments | permalink
    1. Parker Walker says:

      $150 million for what? There is some sho’nuff graft going on in this city.

      • ST says:

        Just like ever playground had to be redone. There appears to be zero oversight of the Conservancy, which has more money than it knows what do to with. So it buys more and more and more vehicles of every stripe and park them all over the park turning it into a parking lot. Not to mention the park employees that drive to work and park all iver the bridle path south of the reservoir.
        No oversight.

        • Parker says:

          Electric vehicles were donated to the park by Arnold Saks.

        • Brian says:

          Are you kidding? Who cares? This is a private company and pretty much the only governance body in NYC that gets anything done. Central Park is the envy of the world. Thank you CPC!

          • MichaelUWS says:

            Must agree and further that the Riverside Park Convervancy could use some of its resource and $ networking to properly seasonally upgrade the landscaping, its stewardship of the parks, lawn areas which are LANGQUISHING as spotty, unkempt, degraded, rubble, uneven drainage area landscape. A serious QOL and maintenance scandal in comparison to Central Park upkeep. Anyone listening, Mayor, Ms. Rosenthal etal?

    2. HelenD says:

      Do we really need a new swimming and skating experience? Can’t they just fix the structural problems and invest the rest of the money in subway improvements or housing for the homeless?

      • Woody says:

        Typical knee-jerk reaction without any thoughtful cost/benefit analysis. Fix the subways and housing.

    3. Raul de B says:

      Parks are what makes this City livable., I, for one are happy this project, which has been years in the making, is at last moving forward.

    4. Mark says:

      This is an inspired plan that will solve the problems created when Robert Moses planted the current structure where it didn’t belong.

      The funds were raised by the Conservancy, and this part of the Park serves a community that richly deserves the same amenities as other areas. And it is not like the funds if saved here could be used for the MTA or NYCHA or other needs. The only question is whether this meets a real need and does so responsibly, and for a host of reasons the answer to both questions is a resounding yes.

      We as a City will need to dig deep to find the public funds for our other problems.

      • sg says:

        Richly deserve???. As a taxpayer, I richly deserve not to see my $$$ wasted on beautification projects when the city is returning back to the ugly 80’s.

        • MeInWhySee says:

          Perhaps you didn’t have a chance to read the comment to which you replied?

          “The funds were raised by the Conservancy… and it is not like the funds if saved here could be used for the MTA or NYCHA or other needs.”

          So, unless you personally donated to Central Park Conservancy, your “$$$” won’t be “wasted” on this project. If/when you stroll through this corner of the park after the project’s completion, I hope you’ll take the time to appreciate the improvements and be grateful that enough private citizens consider investing in public works a priority.

          • Mike says:

            The article says that this is being funded by the city and the conservancy. So, that seems to indicate that public funds are being used, in addition to whatever was raised privately. So, the question is, could those public monies be better spent elsewhere?

      • Robert Prudhomme says:

        As a 45 year resident in the immediate area & park “activist,” I’ve served on a couple of advisory committees & spoken critically when needed on Central Park capital projects. I’ve nothing but praise this time, and look forward to full community consultation as the Conservancy design moves forward. In view of
        the intense hockey usage that down-sized figure and other skate sports, I’d support a rink size that serves triple the users that that census seems to be projecting for. Agree with Mark’s comments in #4.

    5. Christine E says:

      Having to renovate because something is in the way and blocking pathways is ridiculous. The entire park is designed so you can’t go in a straight line from one spot to another, so as to force one to focus on the park. Think ramble, great lawn, north woods, resevoir, zoo access, …

      If they are repairing infrastructure, ok, but keep in mind that the pool and rink are used by and provide affordable recreation to many New Yorkers, so the project plan should be designed to get the facility back on line asap. Being out of commission for more than a few months would not be worth the loss to the community. I fear this will become another dog run taking years for completion. The kids who use this facility have nowhere else to go and a long project will result in some kids never learning a sport. That would be terrible.

      Also the new pool looks too small and significantly narrowed. The current width is olympic lap length. If that is narrowed then users cannot properly train. It is much more important to have a regulation size pool/rink than one that is “seamlessly integrated.”

      Overall this seems like a waste of money for a beauty contest versus actual spending on something useful to the people who actually use it.

      • galdebord says:

        Exactly right. As someone who frequently uses this “unusable” section of the park, this plan threatens the tranquility of the current walkway with more human-use structures (a boardwalk around bird island?!) as well as taking a vital piece of infrastructure out of commission for too long. I see some of the commenters have adopted the official language to describe this project as serving the underserved but PLENTY of Harlemites already use this section of the park and does anyone think it’s coincidental that this project materializes as Central Harlem becomes whiter and new housing opens along 110th? Please….

        • Jsc says:

          I agree. We walk from the loch to the meer through the north woods and it isn’t onerous at all. My child was walking it at 5!

          I have huge concerns about bird island. We don’t need that boardwalk. Leave the birds one peaceful spot!

          • Snow Boider says:

            Re: “We don’t need that boardwalk. Leave the birds one peaceful spot!”

            One of the very few cultural attractions in Florida’s Palm Beach County* are the board-walked bird-watching areas. The birds don’t seem to mind the hundreds of daily visitors strolling the boardwalk, staring at and/or photographing them.

            Not only do the birds seem to NOT care, but it probably provides them with some amusement watching all those featherless bipeds in their weird sun-blocking outfits!

            *B/T/W: Palm Beach County (a.k.a. the “county-that-couldn’t-vote-straight”), is forever infamous for its “Butterfly Ballot”/”Hanging Chad debacle” that eventually gave the contested 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush)

        • Jerry says:

          @ galdebord…
          I don’t know anything about this project, but I do know that there have been numerous renovations in the last several years in the Park near me in the 80s and 90s from mid-park to Central Park West, with favored walkways and playgrounds being closed for long periods of time. In addition, portions of the running track circling the reservoir have been closed from time-to-time, and significant portions of The Pool at 101st Street have been closed for renovations.

    6. tim says:

      Tend to agree with comments favoring less expensive renovation over complete tear-down. The pool area is fine, just needs equipment modernization and some architectural and aesthetic upgrades. The pool is huge and awesome and during peak summer gets packed with kids having a wonderful time. The old Penn Station was also huge and awesome – until it wasn’t.

    7. Steve says:

      The money raised for this project will NOT come from NYC taxpayers. The Central Park Conservancy will secure the funding from generous individuals, donors and foundations. The Conservancy deserves all the credit for turning Central Park from a vandalized broken and neglected park in 1980…into a stunningly restored naturalistic oasis and masterpiece. They’ll do a fabulous job on the new and vastly improved Lasker Rink & Pool.

      • Mike says:

        Agreed, but the article says that this will be funded by the city as well as the conservancy. Is the article wrong?

        • Parker says:

          The hyperlink to the announcement is right in the article. The city will contribute 50 million, the Conservancy is nearing completion of 100 million in donations. Given the scope of the project and the heavy utilization of this portion of the park, the city will continue to benefit immensely for the maintenance of a park that the city has shown absolutely no ability to manage or adequately fund.

    8. sally says:

      One of my friends who has swum at Lasker for years has gone to several planning meetings.THE ACTUAL SPACE FOR SWIMMING AND ICE SKATING IS GOING TO BE HALVED. This beautification project is cutting amenities to the surrounding community.

      • Christine E says:

        Your comment shows that the actual users of the space are completely disregarded. We need more space for swimming/skating, not less.

        This reminds me of the Riverside Park skateboarding park that was designed by nonskateboarders. Only after significant protest was skateboarder usability actually considered.

      • ileen says:

        I was going to ask about that after seeing the rendering. The pool looks to be much narrower in the new version, which will be a huge detriment for the hundreds who swim laps there every morning/evening, as well as the thousands who frolic in the pool during hot summer days.

    9. Suzie E says:

      Two thoughts I’m posting here with the hope someone from the park is reading them:

      The maps posted around the woods in the area around the pool, etc., are virtually useless: there is no “You Are Here” indication, but worse, there is not even directional information: For Pete’s sake, which way is north? I am fairly familiar with the area but came in from an unfamiliar direction and could not get oriented. I pity tourists…

      And I *really* pity — and am angry for — the women and children who have to use the rest rooms in the nature center (I forget its proper name) at the very north end of the park. The toilets have no seats! You have to squat over the rim, which is filthy, and it is very difficult for young children and non-athletic women. Whose idea was this? I haven’t come across this anywhere but up at the Harlem end of the park and I fear it is related, but I do not make the accusation. I just want someone to FIX IT!

    10. stu says:

      Agree that this is a colossal wast of money. The plans are for the rink/pool area to be reduced in size. This will negatively affect those that use that resource the most. The money should be used to fix and modernize existing resources, and for increased safety in that area. The existing paths are fine and not in need of a redesign.

      • Brian says:

        It’s so sad that NYC has become a large nursing home of people who whine and complain and do nothing to add any value. Take a trip to the world’s greatest cities like Singapore and Dubai and you will see why they are so superior to Manhattan. They don’t have useless people who just complain about stuff like this. The city should be spending billions to improve the city for the wealthy and the rest will trickle down.

    11. tailfins says:

      For all of you who are complaining:

      1. Are you just writing to make yourselves feel good? Or are you actually trying to make change?

      2. If you are trying to make change, where were you during the planning meetings? And can you commit to showing up to the next ones?

      3. The Conservancy showed data that very few people (comparatively) use the pool and rink vs the Meer area. This made is challenging for those of us who want to advocate for the rink (or the pool).

      4. The Conservancy is pushing for new attractions (the boardwalk and a new skating area that would be on the Meer). These could attract new tourists to the area, making the surrounding area much more vital.

      Someone mentioned that the skating and pool area would be halved. I think that’s overstating it (I think I remember that it’s 75%). Regardless, it’s definitely less.

      However, that is being counterbalanced. The pool area will have a splash pad. That could start to serve people who currently use the pool, but really just want to goof around. Perhaps that helps free space for the lap swimmers?

      For skaters, the new skating area on the Meer could also move people who are there for public skating.

      Obviously, there’s a lot to figure out and much is still TBD.

      The other issues is the timeline for construction – it’s 3 years that this project will take the amenity out of service. That’s a huge amount of time.

      As someone who is highly interested in the skating rink, I’m very concerned by this project. However, in hearing the presentations from the Conservancy, it’s also clear that they have done a lot of research and thinking in developing this plan.

      It’s worthwhile for everyone who is truly interested to show up at future community meetings and to engage with the Conservancy directly.

    12. Pedestrian says:

      The boardwalk with the plastic ice for “ice” skating. It’s ridiculous, foolish and ecologically damaging. Repair the infrastructure. I kniw peoole love to cut ribbons but this is bloated project.

    13. Shelley See says:

      Flow of water is essential to the health of the pond. I live in the neighborhood. The pond is most important to me, along with the diverse and mature woods there. It looks like this plan will improve one and do minimal damage to the other.

    14. Susan Addelston says:

      Long overdue! How wonderful to see Conservancy Funds moving to North End where it is desperately needed. Area is very underused and not user-friendly at all now. Wish there was something for children in the nature of Carousel, learning/play- e.g., Swedish Marionette Theater – need to bring families inside; could also be boat rentals, maybe. Get to work!