Home Arts & Leisure Chilly reception in Rye Brook for ice rink plan

Chilly reception in Rye Brook for ice rink plan

Rye Brook residents showed up in overflow numbers at a recent village public hearing to oppose a proposed ice hockey rink at the Reckson Executive Park at 1100 King St.

Reckson, a division of SL Green Realty Corp., wants to build a 140,000-square-foot rink with four sheets of ice and bleachers seating 1,230 people, with eight weekends a year devoted to hockey tournaments. The rink would have 1,052 parking spots. The Rye Brook planning board by a 4-2 vote recommended the application to village trustees.

The rink would be built on a site approved and zoned for a 280,000-square-foot office building that was never constructed. QMC Group L.L.C. of Stamford, Conn. would operate the rink, which borders SUNY Purchase and the Doral Arrowwood resort.

The facility will have National Hockey League-size rinks, 200 feet by 85 feet, with lockers and changing facilities. If approved, the project will take eight months to complete. QMC Group hopes to have the rink open by Sept. 1, in time for the next hockey season.

Office park occupancy in Westchester County has declined in recent years and landlords and developers are looking at adaptive reuses for vacant buildings and new uses for undeveloped parcels. Reckson’s novel sports development proposal follows the redevelopment in Harrison this year of the former Gannett newspaper plant site at 1 Gannett Drive as a 209,000-square-foot Life Time Fitness center.

Reckson Executive Park sits on 79.5 acres and features two three-building office complexes. Reckson pays $241,000 in property taxes. The property is assessed at $12.5 million. If the ice rink is built, the village of Rye Brook, town of Rye and Blind Brook School District would receive substantially more in property tax revenue, though an exact figure has not been provided.

“The key focus is teaching kids how to skate and play hockey,” said attorney William Null, of Cutty & Feder L.L.P., the White Plains firm representing Reckson. “This will enhance the community and is beneficial to youth skaters and others in the community. We are not bringing in anything that would be detrimental.”

Eli Williams, president of QMC Group, said that 60 percent of the ice time would be used by QMC, with the rest rented out. The rink is expected to attract high school and college teams and would operate from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

John Collins, of John Collins Engineers P.C. in Hawthorne, Reckson’s traffic consultant, said his two studies indicate that traffic should not be an issue.

“It should be noted that at the site access (International Drive), a separate left turn lane for northbound traffic and a separate right turn lane for southbound traffic is provided, which minimizes conflicting movements along King Street,” Collins said. “In addition, in the future if traffic patterns change or traffic volumes increase, signal timings at Anderson Hill Road and/or International Drive can be optimized to provide improved traffic flow along the King Street corridor.”

Rye Brook Mayor Joan Feinstein said that more traffic analysis is needed, as residents who lived nearby expressed concern about the area being overwhelmed when college and high school games are played.

Clifford Davis, an attorney representing residents in the nearby Doral Greens community, presented a petition with more than 60 signatures against the project claiming that it will damage the character of the community.

“This is not a compatible use no matter how you cut it,” Davis said. “This is not a recreation facility; it’s a mega ice hockey arena, one of the largest facilities in New York State. This will turn into New Roc City,” the entertainment complex in downtown New Rochelle.

Davis has filed an appeal on behalf of Doral Greens residents with the village zoning board of appeals claiming the ice rink is not an allowed use in the zoning district. The appeal will be heard on March 5.

Robert Stryer, who recently moved to the nearby BelleFair residential community, said he would not have purchased his home had he known about this project.

“This is going to fill up the road, and put a strain on our police and EMTs,” Stryer said. “We will have all this traffic coming into our small and quiet community.”

Stryer said that other ice rinks, like the Ice Hutch in Mount Vernon and the Brewster Ice Arena, were not built in the middle of residential neighborhoods.

Officials from Rye and nearby Greenwich, Conn., have also expressed concerns about traffic and the impact on public safety and stormwater runoff. The village also received a letter from the Rye Playland Park Ice Casino opposing the project. Many hockey teams have been displaced by the closing of the ice casino after it sustained significant damage from Hurricane Sandy.

The public hearing on the rink proposal will continue on Feb. 12.

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