22 Aug 2014
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Board Talks New Ice Rink For Riverhead

New ice rink would be operational four to five months a year.

Board Talks New Ice Rink For Riverhead

Riverhead residents hoping for a spin on a new ice rink downtown might have to wait just a little longer.

At a town board work session this week, Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said he'd like to go see how a similar rink, located at the town square in New London, CT, operated before sending the proposal for a new ice rink out to bid.

Attending Thursday's work session were Ray Pickersgill, president of the Riverhead Business Improvement District, and architect and planner Martin Sendlewski, who came to discuss proposed plans for the ice rink, which would be located near the Peconic Riverfront, behind the Riverhead Diner & Grill, near the town's comfort station.

Councilman John Dunleavy said some criticisms have been raised about the ice rink, regarding financing of the project; those concerns have been addressed, he said.

The project would cost approximately $230,000, with approximately $100,000 secured by a county grant. Walter said there were still some questions about the cost of the project; $250,000 that had been "squirreled away, is gone," he said.

Adding a roof to the facililty would mean the total price would be approximately $450,000, Pickersgill said.

Dunleavy asked why the project could not just go to bid; Walter said before a notice to bidders is published he'd like to go see the New London rink, which operates with "plastic," manufactured ice. 

Pickersgill said just publishing the notice does not mean the bid has to be immediately awarded.

Councilman George Gabrielsen, who son is a league skater, said the rink as originally proposed was too small. "The minimum we can build to make this thing work is 50' by 90'," he said.

A rink in Port Jefferson, Gabrielsen said, is 50' by 100'; the Greenport Village ice rink is 70' by 140' feet.

Pickersgill said the current ice surface has been increased to 84' by 40'; the originally proposed rink only measured 38' by 60', a rink that was too small, Gabrielsen said.

"It has to be a good size so people can use it," Dunleavy said. "They won't use it if it's too small. If we're going to do it, we want to do it right."

Pickersgill said the proposed rink is now the same size as one set up in Pittsburgh this year for the NHL draft.

Councilman Jim Wooten said the project might as well go to bid "before we say we can't afford it."

Walter said the only other complaint he's heard about the project is that the rink might compete against the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall and the soon-to-open Suffolk Theater.

The covered piazza, which he envisions, Walter said, would be a place for people to congregate, possibly with an ampitheatre.

The rink, Dunleavy said, would add to downtown and give residents another activity and reason to visit. "I think this is going to add to downtown," he said, adding that visitors would walk around town, get a burger and see a show.

"It's another draw," Gabrielsen said.

The rink would only be operating four or five months of the year, when the weather is cold; during the summer, the pavilion would be a multi-use facility. 

Walter said he'd like to go see the New London facility before going out to bid; the board planned a "field trip" to view the CT facility.



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