At the January press conference, Mangano said that the outdoor rink would be used for skating lessons, youth programs and tournaments involving hockey teams of all ages. He also said that the center would include an artificial-turf field, four NBA- and NCAA-regulation basketball courts, a handball wall and a skating and stroller path connecting the complex with existing paths surrounding the Aquatic Center.
At least two youth hockey organizations, the Long Island Gulls Amateur Hockey Association and the New York Junior Bobcats, have signed on to play at the center.
The construction work, which will continue five days a week, has made navigating the park a challenge, with trucks and large mounds of dirt taking over what was once open space. According to Martino, the access driveway running north and south between parking lots A and 1A will not be accessible during the construction. A small parking lot and a multi-use path will also be unavailable, he said.
To accommodate parkgoers, Martino said, the county is “working on an alternate pedestrian and vehicular access plan to provide safe access to this area of the park.”
Last month, a Herald story detailed parking concerns at the Aquatic Center (“Parking a concern at Aquatic Center,” March 14-20). The Aquatic Center lot is often full during peak hours, forcing pool users to park in the overflow lots. This presented a problem at night, with visitors expressing concerns about the dangers of walking a quarter-mile on unlit paths from the overflow lots to the pool.
On March 27, Jim Muessig, the Aquatic Center’s facility manager, sent an email to the pool’s swim clubs, informing them that during the Twin Rinks construction, the path between overflow lot 1A and the Aquatic Center would be inaccessible, and that the only route from the lot would be on the sidewalk along busy Merrick Avenue.
“For me, the parking situation has gotten so bad lately that I’ve been missing swimming because I can’t find a spot to park,” said Laura Marino, of Bellmore, a member of the Excel masters swim team. “I drive around and get frustrated and leave. There’s no reason a facility like the Aquatic Center should have this type of issue with parking.”