DiGilio Playground roller-hockey rink threatened

Faceoff! Roller-hockey players vie to save Kensington rink

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Puck that!

Roller hockey players want the parks department to body-check a planned overhaul of DiGilio Playground on McDonald Avenue between Avenue F and 18th Avenue in Kensington that erases the park’s hockey rink, saying the feature is constantly in play.

“We’re trying to stop it, or at least prolong it as long as possible,” said Lupo, who regularly straps on Rollerblades and plays at the rink on weekends. “If you come down on Saturday or Sunday, the rink is always in use.”

The $3-million rejiggering, pushed by Councilman David Greenfield (D–Kensington), calls for the installation of two climbing structures, a sprinkler system, a sitting area, and an adult workout area in the place of the roller rink.

The organized hockey league that used to play in the park has folded, but, Lupo said, dozens of people still show up on weekends to play pickup games. Because the informal play doesn’t involve permits, Greenfield doesn’t have data on just how popular the rink really is, Lupo explained.

The demolition of the rink won’t just eliminate a city structure, either, he said. The dedicated athletes have fixed up the rink’s sideboards with their own, hard-earrned cash.

“We’re telling Greenfield that the rink does get used,” Lup said. “We put our own work and money into it. We go there to get away on the weekends.”

Greenfield, playing the role of enforcer, threw the gloves off when discussing the hockey enthusiasts, saying that the needs of the many trump the demands of a few, and claiming the players are breaking the law by playing without permits.

“I don’t have acres to work with,” he said. “It’s a couple of dozen people using it illegally on the weekend versus renovating space where thousands can use it 365 days a year. The cost-benefit was pretty clear.”

The overhaul design is awaiting government approval and has not set date for completion. The rink is one of four in Brooklyn.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

parky says:
There was a similar argument the last time the park was renovated, perhaps a dozen years ago. It comes down to demographics. Many orthodox Jewish mothers and children visit the park, but they never use the hockey rink--that is popular with another cultural group. Is the rink used enough to warrant taking up that much real estate? I don't know; I'm just a parky. Apparently the council member doesn't think so, or perhaps he is just taking care of his core constituency.
Dec. 19, 2014, 11:16 am
Common Cents from Crown Heights says:
He should have said "the needs of mys people trump the demands everyone else". But the point is moot because come next election time, the people that were slighted won't organize against him.
Dec. 19, 2014, 11:37 am
Common Cents from Crown Heights says:
“It’s a couple of dozen people using it illegally on the weekend" When does using public park space become illegal? So according to him when I play a pickup game of basketball on any of the thousand courts in NYC I will need to get a permit? What about the thousands of people that lounge around on the grass in the parks? Do they need permits? Let's round up all the kids on every playground in NYC and ask to see their pay-pahs err permits. What about the bike riders? Roller skaters? etc. How about the people that will utilizing the new space, will they need permits as well?
Dec. 19, 2014, 1:46 pm
Bob from Brooklyn says:
Common Cents from Crown Heights asked "When does using public park space become illegal?" and wants to know if permits are required for pickup basketball, sitting on the grass, kids in playgrounds, bike riders, etc. The answers are on the Parks Department website under "Parks Guidelines for Use of Field and Court Space." In brief, "Those who wish to reserve a court, rink or ballfield ("sports facility") under the jurisdiction or management of the Department for the sports of basketball, baseball, softball, cricket, roller hockey, and volleyball must obtain a written permit from the Department." Kids in playgrounds, people sitting on the grass, bike riders, etc. don't need a permit; they aren't using a field, rink, or court.
Dec. 19, 2014, 5:02 pm
Jimmy Jam from Gravesend says:
I'm part of the "dozen" people using this rink, and I have a few things I would bring out in to the open.

First, we had a permit when the rink was locked every day. When the parks department stopped locking the rink, we stopped submitting for the permit. We unfortunately didn't see a need to follow protocol from that point on.

Second, we no longer play there on Sundays because there is an Orthodox Jewish children's program playing there(with a permit). They have a group of about 30 young kids playing every week in full equipment. I am not sure why the councilman is not aware of this.

Third, the New York Islanders are relocating to Brooklyn next year. This will clearly bring a higher demand for hockey rinks in Brooklyn. They are a playoff contending team and will definitely raise the sport's popularity in the area.

Fourth and finally, we may be a few dozen on any given weekend. But, there have been hundreds of people that played on this rink over the past seven years. I have met players from as far as Milan, Italy. There is a huge social network with this hockey rink at it's center. It would be a shame to see this rink go.
Dec. 20, 2014, 2:31 am
Common Cents from Crown Heights says:
So Bob, are you telling me when I go to play a pickup game of basketball I need a permit? No because the permit serves two purposes, 1 is the city bilking people any chance they get, 2 is to make sure there are no conflicts with usage. And those rules are generally for organized leagues /teams only, not for a group of people wanting to play a pickup game. The fact is Greenfield like many others in that area think they own it and don't want what they consider to be outsiders around. Unless of course they work for them.
Dec. 20, 2014, 5:18 pm
Russian Beast Mode from Sheepshead bay says:
This project summons up how out of touch politicians are with their communities. Had this project been put in place prior to 2007 there would have been no opposition. At that point in time the rink was covered in leafs and the park was occupied by gangs and the homeless. I saw this park out of the train window on the way to work and decided to make something out of it. I bought brooms, garbage bags and shovels from work and cleaned up the whole rink with my roommate. I started posting flyers paid for a website inviting hockey players to come an play at this rink. After months of effort more and more people started to come and the rest is history. To many of us this is more than a rink, there were dozens of new friendships formed, many of us spend time together outside of the rink. Now back to the argument Mr Greenfield has presented. I play at the rink just about every weekend and I have not seen Mr Greenfield once going in the park talking to the community about what the park needs and what kind of use our rink gets. There is no doubt that re construction project is due but it has to be done right it has to be laid out where every inch has a purpose. Currently most visitors of the park are families with kids from different ethnicity's. Besides us using the rink there are countless kids playing soccer, football and skateboarding on that rink after we're done. In the cold winter months we are the only visitors in the park. The only weather conditions that keep us away are rain and snow. As far as Mr Geenfield's comments about us using the space illegally it's a poor choice of words to get his agenda across. We play in a city park the gates are not locked just because its a hockey rink and not a hand ball court does not mean we absolutely have to have a permit to play there, a permit is just a reservation for a time frame. When a school nearby obtained a permit to play there on Sunday we compromised we played on Saturday and they got to play on Sunday. This seems to be a foreign word in Mr Greenfield's vocabulary. There are plenty of alternatives to keep everyone happy: Removing the bleachers that take up a lot of space and installing new structures there. Converting the surface of the rink to sports tile to make it a universal rink for different sports like football, soccer, roller hockey. Unfortunately out of touch politicians like Mr Greenfield are not willing to listen. We might have been blindsided by this project but we're not going without a fight. We have more and more people contacting us and offering help we're creating awareness through press and we have other plans in the works to win this battle. It's time someone reminds Mr. Greenfield that we don't live in Soviet Union where one man with power has the final word.
Dec. 21, 2014, 8:27 pm
Nick from Bayside but grew up in Astoria by Dutch kills playfround says:
Let's put up a rock climbing so the city can have more lawsuits on its hands
Leave the rink alone and put your focus on other things
Dec. 28, 2014, 5:25 pm
Nick from Brooklyn says:
I have to say there are very few rinks to play in and this is one of the best. These players put their time and effort to fix and maintain the rink. Its not like they're spray painting or destroying park property. It is not like i see the parks department come in and cleaning the leaves or putting new boards. Also the idea to put a climbing wall is totally ridiculous , the moment someone falls and sues the city or the expense of upkeep for the wall hemmorages money to the point where they shut it down only then will they see they were wrong
Dec. 28, 2014, 5:44 pm
Rich from From Howard Beach says:
I played pick up games here for years in 80's & 90's
like someone said it was pleasant and you made friends. There are not many rinks for skating others are occuppied by leagues off limits. Aren't their any other playgrounds to create the rock climb? Or they create skateboard parks leave this for players as one said you have an NHL team in the borough that promotes play.
Dec. 30, 2014, 10:14 pm
Harry from Gold's Horseradish says:
Climbing wall = modern monkey bars
Jan. 4, 2015, 11:19 am
Benny from Bensonhurst says:
I used to play here regularly before I moved out of the city. Most of the people are cool, there are some boneheads though who smoke weed and drink alcohol while playing, not my business but there are usually kids around at the park next door so that's not cool. I will say the organizers for the pick-up though have spent a lot of their own money and resources on fixing up the rink, I remember not long ago we all pitched in for new goals, then some of the boards were replaced, even concrete repaired at one point I think. There aren't many public hockey rinks in Brooklyn (compared to handball and basketball courts), so if this got demolished it would be a huge loss. I think the proximity of the rink to the overhead F train will make any attempt of a larger park unsuccessful because of the noise. They should build a roof over the rink or just leave it alone.
Feb. 3, 2015, 5:31 pm

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