Privatizing ice rinks will cut public access
This skater strongly disagrees with The News editorial that endorses the call to explore privatization of the Northtown Center. Publicly owned and operated rinks provide exponentially greater public access than privately owned rinks.
As The News points out, both Northtown and HarborCenter attract out-of-town tournaments and many users. However, Northtown offers a far greater number and variety of public sessions. HarborCenter offers very few public skating sessions, since public sessions may not be profitable for a private company.
Meanwhile, the economic impact generated by nonprofit Northtown subsidizes the improved health and well-being of all who choose to participate.
Canalside rink’s new operators could learn from Northtown’s scheduled offerings. Canalside’s current private operators close the rink on Mondays, and do not open the rink until 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Canalside’s operators employ security guards to prevent public access to this frozen patch of publicly owned waterfront. When there are no sessions, why not let people skate? What could they ruin that a Zamboni cannot fix?
Perhaps Canalside’s new operators will repeal the annoyingly time-consuming policy of having each participant sign an electronic waiver? Replace with a sign used in virtually all ice rinks everywhere: Skate at your own risk.
Finally, to revitalize the East Side, start by installing the pipes that were supposed to go under the splash pad at MLK Park to make ice in the winter. Invite Michael Schmand and his capable Buffalo Place team to run it. Then, watch the neighborhood take strides!
Marty J. Walters