Published in the August 9, 2016 edition.


WAKEFIELD — It has been talked about for years and it almost happened in the 1970s.

But could a first-class hockey rink/skating facility be in Wakefield’s future?

The Board of Selectmen took action last night that could be the first step in a process that could ultimately lead to Wakefield having its own hockey facility. They voted to authorize Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio to issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) seeking a consultant to do a feasibility study to determine if an ice/hockey rink would work in the proposed location.

That location is off Hemlock Road, behind Landrigan Field and across from Northeast Metro Tech. Maio told the board last night that the town owns a piece of land in that area adjacent to a piece of land owned by Northeast Metro Tech. He said that the school is also interested in pursuing the idea of an ice rink and is willing to share the cost of a feasibility study with the town. That cost is not expected to exceed $10,000.

Maio said that one possible scenario would be for the town to enter into an agreement with a business entity that would build and manage the rink in exchange for leasing the land. The town and the vocational school would get priority and reduced rates for ice time and locker room space for teams.

“I think that would be wonderful for the town of Wakefield,” Maio said. He noted that kids who play boys’ and girls’ hockey are forced to go out of town to practice in Stoneham, Malden and Saugus at rinks that charge high rates for ice time at often less than ideal hours of the day.

Maio told the board that there are consultants out there who do exactly this type of work – determining the feasibility of the type of facility that is envisioned at a proposed location. Maio said that there is money in the budget to pay for the study and it would not require an additional appropriation of funds.

Maio said that he felt that an ice hockey rink at the proposed location would really complement the town’s athletic complex that was recently upgraded, including Landrigan Field and the Shaun Beasley Track behind the High School.

Selectman Ann Santos said that building a hockey rink in town would not just keep kids in town for hockey practice — it would help to keep hockey players in the Wakefield school system that have been known to leave for schools with more attractive programs.

Santos also said that preliminary discussions with Northeast Metro Tech have also included talk of the possibility of adding another road out to Farm Street that could alleviate some of the safety and traffic problems around sports and other events.

“I think it would be great for Wakefield,” Santos said.

Selectman Brian Falvey said that if it did get to the point of a hockey rink being built in Wakefield, he would want to make sure that it was a top-notch facility that reflects well on the town.

The board’s vote to authorize Maio to issue the RFQ was unanimous.