Building The Brookline
Park DEK Hockey Rink
(July to December 2013)
On Saturday, December 14, the new Brookline Park DEK rink was unofficially christened with the Opening Day of the 2013/2014 Brookline DEK Hockey League season. Spectators braved the bitter cold and snow, mixed with bouts of freezing rain, to watch the kids play in what many considered perfect hockey weather. The rink replaces the old swimming pool, which closed in September 2003 and had stood abandoned ever since.
The long anticipated, state-of-the-art hockey venue brings a vibrant new attraction to the Brookline Community Center, one that will surely see a lot of attention. The rink is the new home of the Brookline DEK Hockey Association, which began in 2005 and has grown steadily over the years into one of the community's best winter recreation programs. It will be the site of local and regional tournaments, as well as being available year-round for public use, with the exception of permitted times.
The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, in cooperation with Highmark, has initiated a $2.1 million program called Project Power Play to construct a series of DEK hockey rinks in the Pittsburgh region. The plan is to build twelve altogether, with eight in Allegheny County. Our community was fortunate to have Brookline Memorial Park chosen as one of those locations. Project Power Play is part of an ongoing effort to increase the opportunities of children throughout the city to remain physically active through participation in sports, and also to make quality hockey facilities available to the general public.
Construction of the Brookline Park rink, in planning for several months, began in late-July. The first step was to fill the pool and remove the filtration pit. Once the land was leveled and the asphalt surface in place, building materials were delivered and pieced together by the city construction crew and independant contractors. When the rink was completed, the rusting pool fence was taken down and overhead lighting installed. Due to the onset of winter, the mounting of the electronic scoreboard was delayed until March 2014, and spring landscaping will complete the project. The existing pool restrooms, lockers and guard house were left intact and will be refurbished at a later date.
Similar rinks have already been built in Banksville Park, Boyce Park, Lewis Park in Hazelwood, Riverside Park in Oakmont and Richland Community Park, with another scheduled to be erected in Wilkinsburg. Rinks built within the city limits were constructed in cooperation with the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works and will be operated by Citiparks.
The Brookline Park hockey facility puts to rest the nagging issue of what to do with the abandoned pool grounds. Back in 2003, when the City of Pittsburgh fell on hard financial times, all of the public pools were closed. In 2005, when the Act 47 Recovery Plan went into effect, only nine were permitted to reopen. In Brookline, Moore Park pool was chosen due to its size and proximity to other neighborhoods without a place to swim. The Brookline Park pool, which opened in 1982, was among the ten facilities that were permanently decommissioned.
A Valuable Piece Of Brookline Property
It is interesting to note that over the last century this particular piece of land has gone through a four-stage metamorphosis of sorts. Dating back to the 1800s, it was farm land. Once part of the Hays Farm, in 1874 the property was sold to the Anderson family, who continued farming until the early-1940s. Goods from the Anderson Farm were sold to local merchants. The Anderson's also traveled the streets in their horse-drawn wagon, selling fresh produce and other home-made delicacies.
In May 1947 the land was sold to the Brookline Community Center Association for use as a park. Five years later, in 1952, the Brookline Little League Association converted the lower farm field, located off of Oakridge Street, into a baseball field. Over the years the ballfield area was enlarged and improved, with a second field added in 1961. The Little League continued to use the two fields until 1981, when a major park renovation was initiated by the city.
The park grounds were dramatically altered in 1981. A basketball court and swimming pool were built on the site of the existing ballfields, and new baseball and softball fields were built on the upper plateau. The pool opened with much fanfare in June 1982 and remained a major summer attraction until its closure following the 2003 swimming season.
Many Brookliners, especially those living in the East Brookline area, were dissappointed to lose such a nice swimming pool. Although smaller than the Moore facility, the Brookline Park pool had landscaping and a more open atmosphere. The grassy area provided a comfortable place to relax, and the wading pool, with it's trademark hippo fountain, was great for the young children. Several generations of kids grew up spending their summer days at the old neighborhood pool.
A New Era In Brookline Park History
Now, the parcel of land that has, in one way or another, been a prominent part of the heritage of the Brookline community, is embarking on the fourth distinct era in it's long history. For over a century it fed the needs of a growing community, and for the past sixty-plus years it has fed the needs of the community's growing youth.
With DEK Hockey, also known as street hockey, growing in popularity, this valuable piece of property will continue to serve the needs of the Brookline community. It is the newest highlight in the decades-long evolution of the City of Pittsburgh's finest neighborhood recreation facililty, Brookline Memorial Park.
Thanks to those that contributed to the
construction of Brookline's new DEK hockey facility:
Click on images for larger pictures
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From Swimming Pool To
DEK Hockey Rink
Installation Of The Scoreboard
* Photos and information provided by Clint Burton *
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