A group of liberal moms at an elite New York City school torpedoed an annual ice-skating party because Donald Trump rebuilt the rink in the 1980s. The Dalton School said that the event was shelved due to low participation, though reported anti-Trump sentiment is said to be the real reason. When The New York Post asked the school’s parent association president about the allegation, she refused to comment:
Dalton’s PA president, LaMae DeJongh, declined to comment — but sources said the low attendance was due to rampant anti-Trump sentiment at the elite prep school, which boasts alumni such as CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
“I think it is completely insane,” said one Dalton parent who disagrees with the protest. “Like him or not, it feels like a strange place for New Yorkers to protest. And sad that kids now have no skating party.”
Before Trump took over the project in the 1980s, the Wollman Rink in Central Park was a symbol of government incompetence. The rink’s repairs and renovations went $12 million over budget, contractors botched the amount of concrete needed, and for six years the incomplete rink served as a lightning rod for the press to remind the Ed Koch administration how untamed things were in the city, according to Bloomberg. When Trump finally took it over, he finished two months ahead of scheduled and $775,000 under budget:
The rink was an emblem of civic dysfunction. Formerly a jewel in the crown of Central Park, a supporting star in films like Love Story and half a dozen others, Wollman Rink had fallen into disrepair. And what was worse was that the city seemingly had no idea how fix it. Shuttered for repairs in 1980 by the Koch administration and set to be restored at the cost of $4.7 million, by 1985, the rink was $12 million over budget and still not ready.
The renovation of Wollman Rink had begun poorly and turned disastrous.
Rather than using brinewater as a coolant to freeze the rink, the parks commissioner elected to use Freon, a chemical used in air conditioning units and now widely banned for its ozone-depleting properties. It was an immensely complicated operation, and one the city was incapable of properly completing. A subcontractor underestimated the amount of concrete needed to pour the rink’s floor and so was forced to dilute the mixture. Design flaws meant that one part of the rink was six inches lower than the rest. There was an ongoing feud between the Parks Department under the mayor’s control in Manhattan and its capital projects bureau in Queens, still staffed with loyalists to Robert Moses who saw the construction of an ice rink as a frivolity. The project’s lead contractor was officially ruled to be in default, but by that point the principal of the company that was originally building the rink had been killed in a car accident en route to a company-wide getaway to Atlantic City, and the company subsequently disbanded.
The Koch administration, meanwhile, was being consumed by a massive corruption scandal involving a kickback scheme in its parking violations bureau, a scandal that led to the suicide of the Queens borough president, a close Koch ally. And the city’s comptroller, Harrison Goldin, was eyeing his own mayoral challenge to Koch and held up any further work on the rink. Turning the project over to Trump was a way to break the political logjam and to rid himself of the cascading bureaucratic mishaps, even as Trump released a letter he wrote to Koch decrying “incompetence” that ”must be considered one of the great embarrassments of your administration.” (Koch meanwhile railed to anyone who would listen that Trump was a “blowhard” and a “supreme egotistical lightweight,” according to Soffer, his biographer.)
Trump had Wollman Rink up and running by November 1, two months ahead of schedule and $775,000 under budget. Skating stars like Dorothy Hamill, Scott Hamilton, Dick Button, and Aja Zanova-Steindler glided across the ice at the ribbon cutting, with Button declaring the new rink to be like skating on velvet.