An embattled skating rink plan in Prospect Park took its first real step forward in years on Wednesday, as park officials broke ground on a $70-million mega-project to add blade-bourne activities and restore a more natural lakefront.
Local pols wielded ceremonial shovels to mark the good news that the Prospect Park Alliance had secured $54 million of the total budget for the project, which includes two skating centers to replace the aging Wollman Rink and rehabilitate part of the shoreline.
“The old meets the new as the Prospect Park Lakeside’s historic landscape gets restored with improved access and state of the art, green amenities,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.
It hasn’t always been such good news for this project, whose amenities had to be scaled back last year when its original $50-million budget skyrocketed to $75 million. That killed the rooftop recreation and scenic overview, but cut the budget to the current $70 million.
Mayor Bloomberg and a handful of city agencies have since rallied around the rink and donated millions, touting the plan as the best thing to happen to Prospect Park since the paddleboats. It didn’t hurt that philanthropist Shelby White tossed in $10 million in 2008.
But even though all the money hasn’t been lined up, Alliance spokesman Eugene Patron said it was the perfect time to for a groundbreaking ceremony.
“We’re confident that the rest of the money will be coming in,” he said. “We have great momentum here.”