After six years of agitating, Bloomfield Hockey is getting what Pittsburgh officials say will be a state-of-the-art Dek Hockey rink to surpass any in the region.
The announcement was made Thursday at a press conference in Bloomfield Park, where Mayor Bill Peduto motioned to members of the Bloomfield Hockey association to join the group around the podium, saying, "How many years have you been waiting?"
The rink will be built behind the baseball field that was named in memory of Officer Paul J. Sciullo II, a son of Bloomfield and a Dek Hockey enthusiast. He was one of three Pittsburgh police officers slain in an ambush in Stanton Heights in 2009.
The rink will be of regulation size, 155 by 75 feet, with a scoreboard and lights, on the site of the current bocce court, which will be rebuilt, with lights, in a corner of the current playground. The playground will be restructured and updated.
Public works director Mike Gable said the playground and its features "will not be compromised. We're just going to tighten things up."
The park renovation will cost about $800,000, $200,000 of which has been committed by the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Penguins Foundation and Highmark, Mr. Gable said.
Mr. Peduto said the project would not have been possible without that support because of the city's limited finances. He also credited the advocacy of the Bloomfield Citizens Council.
The city will put the work out for bid and expects it to begin in June and be finished by September.
"This is a great day for hockey," said Guy Costa, the city's chief operations officer, standing at the podium with Penguins' CEO Dave Morehouse behind him.
The Penguins organization has helped the city build Dek Hockey rinks in Banksville, Brookline and Hazelwood. About 250-300 youth participate in each, said Dave Soltesz, president of the Penguins Foundation.
Bloomfield Hockey has its roots in the 1970s, with four to six children's teams and 110 adults ranging from 18 to 60, said member Mike Grady.
"We've been playing on the basketball court at Osceola Park [near Baum Boulevard], but the asphalt is cracked" and it's not big enough, he said. "We make do. But six years ago we were in touch with Peduto when he was our councilman, and he helped us with permits and whatever we needed.
"Two years ago, he promised this to us and said, 'Everything takes time.' So we're all biting our tongues wondering when, but now he's making good on the promise."
Mr. Morehouse, a Beechview native, said he played Dek Hockey on a basketball court at Pauline Park, "where there were no lights. I remember calling the mayor's office to complain when I was in seventh grade."
The new rink is going to help Bloomfield Hockey grow, Mr Grady said. "Eighty to 90 percent of the people who bring their kids to play grew up with" Dek Hockey.
Early designs had the rink under the Bloomfield Bridge nearby, but that site proved to be better for pigeons.
"For years we've been trying to find a place," Mr. Peduto said, nodding to leaders from Bloomfield Hockey. "Thanks for being patient."
Diana Nelson Jones: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1626. Read her blog City Walkabout at www.post-gazette.com/citywalk.