Published in the March 2, 2018 edition.
WAKEFIELD — The town will take another shot at building a hockey rink off Hemlock Road.
On Monday, the selectmen approved a request from Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio to advertise for bids to build a rink on the south side of Hemlock Road east of Landrigan Field.
Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School and the Town of Wakefield own the land being eyed for development. The rink would be located in what is now woods south of the shed at the mouth of the Northeast parking lot.
Northeast administrators are in the process of planning a new $200 million facility. In a pre-feasibility study, several options were given as to where a new school building would be located. The favored option is directly behind the current facility, where a practice football field now sits.
In a draft copy of a Request for Proposals included in the selectmen’s meeting packet, the project is introduced this way:
“The property consists of land in Wakefield owned by the Town and (the vocational school). The Property has direct access to Hemlock Road and Farm Street. The (owners) are interested in developing the site to include two sheets of ice with spectator seating, locker rooms and snack bar areas. Parking is to be provided and a second means of egress onto Farm Street is required.
“The Lessors are not experienced operators of a skating facility and do not intend to take on the responsibility for developing and/or operating any of the recreational uses on the Property. The Lessors, therefore, have determined that the best use of the Property is to enter one or more long term ground leases with one or more developers who will design, construct, own and operate one recreational facility on the Property. Proposals to develop the Property, in whole or in part, will be considered. The Lessors prefer to lease the entire parcel to one entity or a partnership of entities that will work together to design, construct and operate a facility containing the Lessors’ preferred recreational use. The Lessors intend to form a commission composed of representatives of key stakeholder groups to interface and work with the selected developer(s) on major issues that arise during the developmental process. After the facility is open and operating, the developer(s) and operator(s) will be expected to cooperate with such commission as necessary.”
In a section of the draft Request for Proposals on skating rink objections, it is stated that those interested in doing the work “are encouraged to consider the Lessors’ preferences, needs and desires with respect to such facilities:
• The Lessors prefer a skating facility that will accommodate and support multi-generational training, competitive and recreational skating needs of all Wakefield residents as well as the high school teams for Wakefield Memorial High School and Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School.
• Approximately 600 boys and girls, ages 4 to 19, are currently enrolled in Wakefield Youth Skating Association programs. That organization, Wakefield Memorial High, Galvin Middle School and the Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School hockey programs collectively spend approximately $600,000 per yer on ice time. Area rinks also are currently used to Wakefield figure skaters and general recreational skaters. More predictable and convenient access to ice time will allow for increased enrollment in these programs.
• Recognizing the efficiencies and potential for broader programming inherent in skating facilities with multiple sheets of ice, the Lessors are receptive to proposals that involve more than a single sheet, e.g. 1 1/2 or 2 sheets, subject to space availability. Otherwise, characteristics of an ideal facility could include: adequate dedicated locker room space for boys and girls teams; meet all Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association requirements including sufficient seating capacity (about 500 seats) for spectators at a high school game or its equivalent; public restrooms; skate rental, food concession and other amenities, as appropriate for a high-quality skating facility.
“Respondents proposing to design, construct and operate one or more skating rink facilities should specify the following in the proposal:
• Anticipated size of the proposed skating facility, parking requirements and any other site requirements
• Proposed programming, including hours of operation
• Proposed hours available for use by Town residents and local organizations
• Proposed use preference, if any, for Town residents, youth hockey, figure skating programs and adult hockey leagues
• Key design elements, including without limitation, energy efficient considerations that would be incorporated into the design of the skating facility.
As part of the lease agreement, Maio explained that proper upkeep and maintenance would be necessities.
The town administrator told the selectmen that this rink wouldn’t be a money maker as much as it would be a way of keeping Wakefield and vocational school hockey players “on campus” rather than needing to be transported to rinks in other communities, even for home games.
Selectman Ann Santos, a hockey mom who helped work on the rink plan, said, “This gives our kids access to a rink that keeps (them) in town.”
Colleague Anthony Longo, who also worked on the rink plan, said that while there will be some gate receipt and concession money coming in, a rink on Hemlock Road “will be a money saver” more than anything else.
Selectman Brian Falvey said, “We can bang this out so it looks like an MDC rink (which is not desireable), or a good facility like the one out in Marlborough.”
His colleagues agreed — as did Maio — that Wakefield was looking to be home to a top quality venue.
Selectman Ed Dombroski asked whether there would be any cost to taxpayers and Maio assured him there would not.