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GREENWICH — For months, the town has focused on Roger Sherman Baldwin Park as the location for a temporary ice rink. But the clock is ticking because work cannot proceed on a new permanent rink until the issue of a temporary seasonal ice rink is settled.  

“We as a town need to move forward on some kind of decision on this temporary rink, ” said Bill Drake, chair of the town’s Rink User Committee for Design and Planning.  

But the committee must still evaluate the downtown park, located next to Greenwich Harbor, and other possible sites.

“The rink committee is still busy with its research and its resulting evaluation, ” said Amy Siebert, commissioner of the Department of Public Works. “The committee will present its recommendations, when complete, to the first selectman for consideration. A project then can be moved forward through the budget process. ”

First Selectman Fred Camillo said his office, in conjunction with other town departments, will make the final decision “ASAP. ”

“We like a lot of things about (the park), ” Camillo said. “We like the location. We like the available parking. We like that this will be temporary, and we’ve had preliminary talks with people who could (financially) help with this. ”

Some upgrades, such as to the electrical system, would be permanent, he said, but gave no specific time frame for the decision process.  

The current electrical set-up at the park, which hosts the Greenwich Town Party,   would not be sufficient for any rink, Luigi Romano, the particular town’s interim superintendent of building construction and maintenance, has said previously. The system would need to be enhanced to support a temporary rink, he said.

For Camillo, that presents advantages for another project he supports: upgrades at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park .

“When we do redo that will park, which is hopefully soon, we would already have that (upgrade) done and paid for and not by taxpayers, ” Camillo said. “There are a lot of positives with it. ”

The temporary rink would serve the needs of Greenwich’s skaters while a new permanent rink is constructed in Byram. Until the temporary rink is decided, the plans for the permanent one cannot go forward to get their needed approvals, Drake has said.

Under the current construction plan, the town could lose as much as three years of ice time during construction, Drake reports. With the popularity of skating and hockey in town, he said, the town cannot afford to go those years without a rink in town.

Camillo stated he understood the reluctance for a temporary rink, yet he said he supports the project’s plans.

“You always want to make sure you get the most for your money, but we’re just running out of time and the main thing is to get a beautiful new facility, ” he said.

There are no official approvals yet, but the town’s plan is to build the new municipal ice rink on the same footprint since the current Dorothy Hamill Rink in Byram. That would require demolition of the old building to make way for the new one.

In May, the Representative Town Meeting cut a $45, 000 allocation from the 2022-23 budget that would have been used on the temporary rink. At the time, RTM members said they did not have enough information about the cost and location of a temporary rink and wanted to wait until town land use approvals had been granted.

The particular RTM approved the cut even though Drake said private donors had committed to reimburse the $45, 000 to the town. The committee hopes to get that item in the upcoming 2023-24 budget, which will be formally proposed in January.

Without the approvals, though, any allocation for a temporary rink could meet the same obstacles and delays.

The Dorothy Hamill Rink is more than 50 years old, and Camillo called it “past its useful life. ” Upgrades planned for the new rink would include improved locker rooms, showers and bathrooms as well as other features. The public has weighed in on the new rink in the past and will be able to do so again.

A new survey from Sports Facilities Company is expected to be issued soon to ask residents about the rink situation. Parks and Recreation Director Joe Siciliano mentioned the survey will be “refined” before it goes to residents. The survey is similar to a resident survey completed about the Eastern Greenwich Civic Center.

A new rink in town will be “long overdue, ” Camillo said.  

“This is not something that’s extravagant, ” he said. “If you go around and look at the other arenas in Fairfield County, you’ll know that the time has come for a new arena here in Greenwich…. The time has come to obtain a facility fitting for all our users that is one we can be proud of. We don’t want to delay this any further. ”

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