By Julie Shapiro
BATTERY PARK CITY — The popular ice rink in Battery Park City will not return this year.
The company that managed the rink last year decided not to come back, and the Battery Park City Authority didn't find a new rink operator in time for the 2010 season, authority President Gayle Horwitz said last week.
The Authority started looking for a new operator in August, but found only one company that was interested. That company, though, felt there was not enough time to strike a deal for this winter and wanted to wait until next year, Horwitz told Community Board 1 last week, according to two people who attended the meeting.
"We asked the operator to try to pull together a rink operation for this year but it did not seem that it would be viable," authority spokeswoman Leticia Remauro said in an e-mail following the meeting.
Remauro declined to name the potential rink operator.
Local residents were disappointed to hear the rink would not be back.
"It’s a real shame," said Carolyn Happy, 46, whose 9-year-old daughter skated frequently last winter. "It provided a great place for kids to hang out."
The rink, located on the Battery Park City ballfields at Murray and West streets, hosted fundraisers for the local elementary schools last year, in addition to skating lessons, hockey clinics, ice theater performances and more.
"It was a great amenity to have in the neighborhood," said Dennis Gault, 45, a Battery Park City parent and Community Board 1 member.
"Especially if you think about the child obesity epidemic," Gault added, "this was an activity the kids really enjoyed. If [the Authority] could have made it happen, they should have."
During the ice rink’s debut season last year, operator Rink Management Services struggled to turn a profit. The company was supposed to pay the Authority about $60,000 a year to run the rink for six years but backed out after just one year.
Problems included bad weather and falling materials from adjacent construction sites, which forced the rink to close several times.
Now, the Authority plans to issue a new request for proposals before the end of the year to find a new operator for next winter, Remauro said.
At the same time, though, the Authority will also meet with the community to decide if people even want the rink to come back.
The issue is that the Authority is converting the ballfields from grass to artificial turf next summer, which will enable the fields to be open year-round for the first time. The community may have to decide whether they want to spend next winter playing on the new turf or skating on a new rink.
Anthony Notaro, a neighborhood resident who was appointed to the Authority board earlier this year, hopes there will be room for both activities.
"I’d rather not have to make a choice," Notaro said. "I’m optimistic that the two can coexist."