By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The first phase of Prospect Park’s Lakeside restoration project – a new “Music Island” to replace the one destroyed in 1960 for the construction of the former Wollman Skating Rink – will be dedicated on Friday, Oct. 19.
Also dedicated will be an esplanade, to be known as the Shelby White and Leon Levy Esplanade. Music Island is being named in honor of Chaim Baier, Ms. White’s father. The first phase was funded principally by a $10 million grant from the Leon Levy Foundation, a private, not-for-profit foundation created from the estate of Leon Levy, an investor with a longstanding commitment to philanthropy. His wife, Ms. White, is the founding trustee of the foundation.
Recent stories in the media quoted many neighborhood residents and others who complained that the Lakeside’s long-awaited new skating rinks will not be opening for the winter, and in fact may not be ready until the fall of 2013.
In fact, however, the Prospect Park Alliance, the park’s fund-raising arm, announced as early as March that “Prospect Park will not offer ice skating on site from Janaury to March 2013, as had been previously announced.”
At the time, the Alliance apologized for people’s disappointment, and said the reason for the delay was to speed construction on other elements of the Lakeside project and to save $500,000 in temporary costs (for a temporary rink, according to reports).
The Daily News quoted several disappointed skaters, such as Alexandra Gronua, who is visiting Brooklyn for several months with her family.
“We wanted to try it but we are very disappointed. Now we have to find other rinks,” she is quoted as saying.
Another skater, Martine Channon, who learned how to skate at the Prospect Park rink, was quoted as saying, “I'm amazed that it's not opening this year.”
Brooklynites who wish to go ice skating still have the opportunity to go to the Abe Stark rink at West 19th Street and the Coney Island Boardwalk, also administered by the Parks Department.
The original Music Island was part of Olmsted and Vaux’ 19th century design for Prospect Park. It only hosted music concerts for several years, before park-goers realized that it was too far from the rest of the park for the music to be heard.
The recent reconstruction of the island required building a dam, excavating about 9,800 cubic yards of rubble, and even relocating turtles.