Parks officials this week voted to recommend that a proposed seasonal outdoor ice rink be located in Waveny. Based on the findings of a subcommittee, the Parks & Recreation Commission voted 10-0 in favor of trying out a winter “mini rink” in the parking lot that serves the Orchard Field softball diamonds.
One commissioner abstained from voting during the April 14 meeting, held via videoconference. Commissioner Jake Granito, who helped lead the Ice Rink Committee, said the group looked in depth at three possible locations—tapping Public Works Director Tiger Mann, Parks Superintendent John Howe and Recreation Director Steve Benko for their expertise—and concluded that the Waveny site “is best suited for the town.”
It’s a large area that’s “also good because you have the grass fields behind it,” Granito said. “The bathrooms are right there. There’s still plenty of parking.
[Editor’s Note: The following letter was sent March 6 to New Canaanite.]
We are very encouraged by the increasing pace of interest, questions, and feedback we’ve been gathering with regard to the proposed ice rink in our town. While at this time our planning is not advanced enough to answer any and all questions, we feel that that it is time to address a number of areas of interest to the community by sharing our progress in researching the major elements involved in making this rink a reality. Background and Basics
What kind of ice skating rink are we proposing? An open air ice skating rink primarily for our community’s recreational use (versus primarily for organized sports). with lots of open skate time for people of all ages – kids, families, seniors, etc.
Though they haven’t yet recommended a specific trial site, those pursuing an open-air ice rink in New Canaan are readying to purchase used equipment for the facility that will save hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday approved a request to put $7,500 in privately raised funds held in a town account toward a 60-by-120-foot ice rink and accessory equipment. The non-refundable deposit is for a rink that the Fairfield County Hunt Club is selling for $75,000, according to Gene Goodman, who has spent more than one year as a member of the Parks & Recreation Commission spearheading efforts to study what would be needed to create an outdoor rink facility and where it may go. “Having looked at every site in this town, every site has its plusses and minuses,” Goodman told the selectmen at their regular meeting, held in Town Hall. “No one is an absolute clear hands-down winner.
Town officials said Tuesday they’re trying to identify just where in Kiwanis Park would be the best place for a proposed open-air ice rink.
A leading contender for a seasonal rink site in New Canaan that would be open to the public with an admission charge, Kiwanis is attractive in that it has sufficiently large areas, parking, access to bathrooms, running water and electricity, and structures that could house changing areas, snack bar and skate shop, members of the Parks & Recreation Commission have said. Yet a level area out front of the main pavilion traditionally has been used by a local service organization for a large chunk of the late-November-through-February trial season that Parks & Rec has floated.
And early cost estimates to level out an area behind the pavilion and install a retaining wall there appear cost-prohibitive, a group of town officials and community volunteers said during a meeting of a Parks & Rec subcommittee. It’s also unclear whether installing the ice rink deeper into the park—on the far side of the swimming hole—would create a sufficiently attractive and workable facility, officials said during the Parks & Rec skating subcommittee meeting. While excavation, fill, retaining wall construction and other costs would push the total expense for an ice rink located between the rear of the pavilion and swimming hole to an estimated $200,000 to $250,000, creating a facility out front of the building, where the Exchange Club of New Canaan in past years has set up its approximately month-long Christmas tree sale would be far less money, official said. Rona Siegel, chair of Parks & Rec, asked whether the club had ever looked at setting up its sale in the Waveny Pool parking lot instead.
“It’s ideal,” Siegel said at the meeting, held in a conference room at Town Hall.
Kiwanis Park, two sports fields along Farm Road at New Canaan High School, artificial turf fields near the water towers and the parking lot south of the softball Orchard Field at Waveny all are contenders as potential sites for a proposed open-aired ice rink, officials said last week.
Those areas appear to meet the rigid criteria needed for a seasonal rink in New Canaan that would be open to the public with an admission charge, under a proposal that Parks & Recreation Commissioner Gene Goodman is developing as a member of the appointed body. Goodman said that after consulting with recreation and public works officials, several other candidates—such as at Mead Park, the New Canaan Nature Center, Saxe Middle School and Conner Field—had to be rejected for a variety of reasons. A potential site must be level, big enough to accommodate a 120-by-60-foot rink with an additional 10-foot perimeter as well as space for temporary structures (snack bar, changing area, skate shop, office, Zamboni machine), access to bathrooms and running water and electricity, and parking for at least 40 vehicles, Goodman told members of the Commission at their July 10 meeting. “What ofttimes looks like a viable alternative, has a lot of cost considerations and negatives,” Goodman said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. Goodman said he’s working on narrowing down his list of potential candidate sites and hopes that the the subcommittee he’s leading could bring a recommendation to the full Commission this fall.