There was a time in the history of New Paltz when volunteer firefighters were trained in how to use their hoses to turn parts of Hasbrouck Park into an ice rink. There was a certain technique to spraying water atop pavement in order for it to freeze into ideal ice for skating. Terry Dungan, former mayor, told this reporter in 2010 that to keep water from running off blacktop, the hoses needed to be turned upward in order to create ice crystals in frigid air, that would fall like snow. Winters don’t freeze around these parts like they used to, and the lore of creating skating ice has mostly faded from human memory, but that doesn’t mean that skating is forever barred from the park. Rather, it’s due to come back with wheels on.
Laura Hasbrouck Varick donated the “Varick lot” to the village in 1923 in memory of Hasbrouck’s ancestor Jean Hasbrouck, who was a member of the Duzine (a common noun meaning “a body of twelve men, governing a village” according to the Century Dictionary) that oversaw die Pfalz, the community now known as New Paltz. In one article in the New Paltz Independent at the time was this hint about the donor’s intentions: “Mrs. Hasbrouck also desires that the land be beautified as a tribute to our soldiers of the World War,” a preference that was marked by the presence of a howitzer in the park from 1925-1942, when it was melted down for another war effort. Village officials seem not to have wanted to manage a park; in 1929 they seriously considered allowing a new high school to be built there, but that was complicated by this being parkland, and the school was instead built on former New Paltz Lumber Company property at the corner of Main and Manheim. By the 1940s, a 99-year lease of the park to the state took its maintenance off the hands of trustees, until that lease was successfully terminated in 1983 thanks in part to then-village attorney Jack Zand.
The next phase of skating will be focused on blades and boards with wheels. This idea has been discussed more than one at board meetings over the past several years, but trustees are now working with personnel from Hudson Valley Trailworks on ways to make the project affordable. They’ve learned that the skate park in Saugerties was built piecemeal, one element at a time, and that approach suits these trustees just fine. Kids have been clamoring for a place to skate for many years, and Deputy Mayor Alex Wojcik is clear that older folks wouldn’t mind taking a spin, either. While there are no specifics to share as yet, the general idea is to create something that is welcoming to people regardless of the physical ability and their skating experience, allowing near-professionals to feel challenged without neophytes feeling intimidated.
Inquiries have also been made to the Tony Hawk Foundation for potential funding.