The proposed Hockey Rink IMHO embodies why we need community input on this plan and a more researched plan that is a better fit for our community.
- The hockey rink is extremely expensive to build as proposed – embedded inside a building requiring expensive super structure to support it,
- Hockey is a very expensive sport that not all kids will be able to afford,
- We don’t have the volume of Hoboken High School students to fully utilize the rink, and
- The rink is very costly to maintain.
Because of these, if Hoboken taxpayers were to invest in a hockey rink, maybe we should consider doing so as part of a community center run by the city, not captive inside a high school run by the Board of Education. So if the referendum doesn’t pass, one idea is to consider a public-public partnership with the City of Hoboken for a shared community center, run by the City of Hoboken.
Build It and They Won’t Come… For a While At Least
I drove the short 20 minutes to see Bayonne’s Korpi Ice Rink last week because this is what people point to as an example. I just wanted to have a peek at what it looked like, but I was lucky enough to be offered a tour while there and was able to get some good information.
- Bayonne’s rink is in a standalone recreation building, with the rink effectively built as its own free-standing building adjacent to and part of Bayonne High Schools large campus of buildings.
- The Hockey rink serves the 3,200 Bayonne High School students, ~8 x Hoboken’s current high school enrollment, and multiple hockey leagues.
- The facility used to be used 24/7 by the community outside of school hours but demand has subsided significantly and now the facility is only rented out between 25 - 40 hours per week (seasonal) during the year; this includes the Hoboken / Weehawken youth hockey and a few hours for community open skate.
- The rink can accommodate approximately 1,800 students taking skating as a physical education elective (assuming 2x per week) during the school year.
- The cost to maintain is very high, and they have had to replace the rink and the pipes.
- There are approximately 100 parking spaces near the rink that are free and open to the public after school hours.
So with only 420 current High School students, the proposed Hoboken rink would never be more than 25% utilized during the school day assuming 100% of all Hoboken High School students took a skating elective at least once during the year. And the BOE has not yet provided any actual estimates of use outside of school hours to support the considerable cost to operate. Including a Zamboni to keep the ice fresh year round.
'Suspended' Hockey Rink – Not Your Average Rink
Like Bayonne’s and the proposed new rink in Weehawken along the waterfront, most local hockey rinks are built on ground in free-standing structures that have ceiling / roof structure that are not required to bare weight. The one being proposed in the New High School is different, effectively suspended above the ground:
- built on the 2nd floor above proposed resiliency infrastructure
- built below the 4th floor which houses the football field.
So a typical community hockey rink:
- doesn’t have to build a floor structure strong enough to hold 90 tons of ice over a water retention system;
- doesn’t have to build the walls of its column free space strong enough to help hold up the entire surrounding building; and
- doesn’t have to build its ceiling structure strong enough to support thousands of people, snow, and rain.
The cost of those extra requirements to build a “suspended” hockey rink is crazy more expensive. The BOE’s architect threw out a $3 million dollar number, irresponsibly IMHO, for the cost which is not supported anywhere and 50-100% lower than estimates for a free-standing community rink. But how can a column free space that changes the cost of the entire super structure and is roughly 10% of the buildable space of this proposed New High School only cost 1% of the total cost? It can’t. We need to understand what the building could be without these and what it would cost.
The Hockey Rink – Driving the Design
If you look closely at the plans, you see that the entire school was built around the Hockey rink being a “necessary” amenity, not a “wouldn’t it be nice” amenity. The Hockey rink takes up almost 20% of each the 2nd and 3rd floors and blocks the ability to design classroom space along any of the northern, southern, and eastern edges of the footprint which would allow for necessary windows.
The hockey rink seems to drive the reason for the building footprint to be greater than the size of the rooftop field / track, the extended height of the Jefferson St. classroom tower, and the reason the architect had to 'fill the rest of the space under the field' and did so with extra, costly amenities.
If the referendum doesn’t pass, I would like to see what a building could look like without such a costly feature as the Hockey Rink and the other fillers including the 2nd auditorium and 2nd gym. Or alternatively a plan that might include these community spaces, but is actually designed to be a separated community center that is paid for and managed by the city, and leased to the BOE for their needs. The latter would ensure that all of the so called public amenities get the maximum possible use.