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.