Town Meeting Members Voice Concern Over Proposed Rink Location

The first night of Norwood's Special Town Meeting was dominated by a discussion of article 5, regarding feasibility and traffic studies on the proposed hockey rink project.

Of the 10 articles discussed during the first night of Norwood's Special Town Meeting on Thursday, it was article 5 - a motion by the Board of Selectmen for the members to approve the expenditure of a $45,000 donation on traffic and financial feasibility studies on a proposed hockey rink location - that garnered the most attention.

After nearly two hours of discussion, the members approved the article.

Representatives from the Recreation in Norwood Committee began the conversation with a presentation on the process up to this point and their findings regarding the specific proposed location (the current location of the tennis courts at the Coakley Middle School), the benefits to the town and the management of the rink.

Bill Naumann (district 3) said that RINC was formed in 2003, and spent most of the next two years on a potential rink site on University Ave. The project - which was not on town-owned land and was to be privately funded - fell apart when the lead donor pulled support.

The committee discovered that the cost of land was just too much, he said. If a rink was to happen in Norwood it would have to be done on town-owned land.

The current proposal is that the tennis courts near the school be relocated and a full rink facility built in that location, using $5.6 million in funds secured from the state by Rep. John Rogers. The funds for the studies - the issue of the actual article before the Town Meeting - had been

Naumann said that thinking in basic business terms of supply and demand, the local demand for ice space is very high in comparison to the local supply - due to the high number of local high school and youth teams as well as the fast-growing sport of women's ice hockey.

"Everybody's scrounging for the same ice," he said. "Build it and they will come."

According to the RINC presentation, the average hockey parent spends between $50-$100 a week on incidentals at and in the area of a rink, including gas, concessions, and local restaurants. With the number of kids in Norwood hockey programs, Naumann said, that's $600,000 to $1.2 million that Norwood residents are spending somewhere else when they have to travel for practices and games.

"Let's get some of that," he said.

Six registered speakers followed the RINC presentation, with another six unregistered speakers voicing concerns after that. The theme of nearly every response was concern over traffic.

Regina Noonan, from district 6, said that the traffic is already a concern in South Norwood.

"Currently we do not drive through South Norwood, we manuever," she said.

Judith Howard, Town Meeting member from district 3, gave a nostalgic speech about what Norwood used to be like, and said that this rink it is just another rushed project in an area where it doesn't belong.

"How many people really think that ice rinks are attractive in a residential area?" she said.

Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Michael Lyons, said that the Board agrees that there are unanswered questions on the location which is why they went forward with the proposal to form a Skating Rink Study Committee of Town Officials and Board members to examine any available locations in town.

The committee was formed after proposal by RINC member Mike Thornton at the Nov. 6 Board of Selectmen meeting, and includes General Manager John Carroll, Selectman Allan Howard, Recreation Director Jerry Miller, Director of Public Works Mark Ryan, Recreation in Norwood Committee member and Norwood Nuggets President Bill Naumann, Assistant Town Engineer Andrew Murphy, and School Committee member John Badger.

"We have to look at all other options in town," Lyons said.

There will be a meeting of this committee on Nov. 28 at 5:30 at the Civic, which is completely open to the public, he said.

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Pete Downing November 16, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Interesting that the committee does not appear to have a non-government tied official, a non-biased official or a resident or two from South Norwood?? What good is a committee if it does not have proper representation? In my opinion this committee should be comprised of the above minus John Carroll and add a few Town Meeting Members, a few residents from Norwood and a few residents from South Norwood. This way you form a well-rounded committee and have a balance in biased opinions. Sadly, no matter how much we argue at Town Meeting, we ultimately won't have a say. I think the matter should be put on the ballot in April, but our voter turnout is horrible in April elections, so to me that is a dead-end option. BTW: I support the rink being built, I just would like to ensure we exhaust all options before deciding on the final location. Why? To appease all sides so we can look back and said we went about this the right way! Disclaimer: I do not live in South Norwood.
Mr. Ragman November 16, 2012 at 07:59 PM
DeMaria said, "When I moved to Norwood (40 years ago), I was particularly impressed with the accomplishments of the people of Norwood,” DiMaria said. “It’s this NIMBY mentality that did not exist then that has begun to exist. If it’s good for the town, you need to weigh if it benefits the 20,000 who live in this town versus the few who will be inconvenienced, if they are inconvenienced.” DeMaria don't you remember all the arguments about the DPW yard on Pleasant Street? The neighborhood shot it down, lock, stock and barrel. The ONLY way RINC gets this in South Norwood is because of the large transient population there that could give a rat's behind what goes there. The latest dance recital had people parking all along Washington Street, Mylod Street, Ledgehill and the rest. And you call yourself an environmentalist? Look at the plan, the 113 parking spot s will be place on what was once trees, grass and open green space. SHAME ON YOU DEMARIA!
Zootie Maguire November 16, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Mr. Downing I agree with you 100%. I was born and raised in South Norwood, however, I did not receive an invite to the table. I've lived on the west coast for a while and I'm truly disappointed with the mentality of the governing boards. My #1 issue is GOOD SCHOOLS. And, yet, the schools are giving away their land. The decline in Norwood is sad as the community gets older and doesn't care about the kids. I've got no kids in schools!!! So let's build a new high school and give each pupil a new computer? The tennis courts are set at the wrong logistic, they are stuck on 1 or 2 bathrooms to sell a hotdog?? The frosting on the cake is that the list of 85 local towns stating who passed Advanced MCAS. Guess what town didn't make it- NORWOOD!!! Shame on the folks in charge.
Patricia November 17, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Thanks for the previous two comments. We, as residents of South Norwood are tired of being bullied into accepting more and more recreational facilities in the area. Enough is enough! Doesn't the safety of the students and pedestrians matter? A rink and/or indoor swimming pool would be best suited along Route 1, with easy access and not placing any further burden on any neighborhood.
Joe Greeley November 18, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Thank you for the coverage Kelly. The most important thing to remember is that we're only at the front end of this topic, and there are many questons that need to be answered before a shovel goes into the ground. The RINC committee has done a good job bringing this forward, now it's up to the rest of us. Interested ? Attend the Nov. 28 meeting at 5:30 at the Civic. Want to take it further ? Attend the next Selectmen's meeting, and petition them to add other members to the board. This is far from a 'done deal'.
Mr. Ragman November 19, 2012 at 03:18 AM
If you think Gov Patrick will spend $5.6 million for a hockey rink in Norwood, you are crazy. This stunt did exactly what it was intended to do, get Johnny Boy re-elected. A capital outlay list is not law, It is similar to our town list, voted at the end of every ATM. It is a wish list only. It may never be spent. John's buddy from the Legislature that now heads DCR pushed through this little gem just in time for an election. NO ONE IS OBLIGATED to spend it.
Tina November 19, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Very well put Mr Downing! What I don't understand is how could the old Decathlon site be "too small" but the Coakley is not...maybe the owners of the Decathlon property could donate it to the town, which would then make it, town owned land...there's something very fishy about this whole proposal to me
Pete Downing November 19, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Mr. Ragman: Your point, while very direct is very valid and I have that same question as well... This $5.6 million dollars has to have an expiration date on it! It seems too good to be true! Does it?? As far as getting John Rogers re-elected... I know he reads this, so let's hear it from him. The fact still remains and as Joe Greeley and Mr. Ragman point out in their own ways... we are far from putting a shovel into the ground. The real question: is this really going to happen or is this just a re-election ploy? My take: We do the feasibility study, determine the final location and put it to the people to vote on in April! You think town government can move that fast?
Indiana November 19, 2012 at 05:43 PM
I would love to see a rink in Norwood but I am not sure the Coakley site is the best place...actually I am sure it is not - way too congested already there. what about the land where the YMCA was going to be built? or did that go away when the rink deal fell through? Anyway I hope it happens but also thought it was an election ploy as well.
Ms. Dickson November 19, 2012 at 10:16 PM
I believe residents in South Norwood do care Mr. Ragman but they are treated the same way they were when South Norwood was "Tiot," so most keep their mouths shut and stay out of the discriminatory line of fire. Plus, those who are fairly recent immigrants and haven't yet become citizens, can't vote and subsequently, can't participate on their own behalf. I did live in South Norwood when I first moved to town > 20 year ago. It was the only thing I could afford at the time. We were treated like second class citizens and we knew it. Some people are less than subtle about their hatred of renters. People have no qualms about saying we are nothing but transients yet we contribute to the economy just as much as townies or new homeowners - whether it is paying property taxes through rent payments or directly by owning. We work and pay payroll taxes. We shop and pay sales tax. We buy vehicles and pay excise tax. We just can't afford large down payments and overpriced single family houses! That doesn't mean we don't "give a rat's behind" sir. It has taken me five long years in my current home but neighbors finally get it - I am not a piece of trash because I rent and my home/yard looks as good and often better than some of the owners!
Ms. Dickson November 19, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Selectman Donohue repeatedly asked that a resident from South Norwood be chosen for the committee ... she tried. The best she could do was get them to have Selectman Howard (a former resident of South Norwood) participate. John Carroll "volunteered" to chair the committee in order to keep things moving ... I am not saying I agree. I just happened to see what went on in the meeting. BTW - I spoke to a property manager at another location and they are interested in having the rink at their site (to lease the land which I do not believe has been considered). I told him to call John Carroll ASAP.
Zootie Maguire November 19, 2012 at 11:35 PM
First let me say it is encouraging and inspiring to have this dialogue with you folks. The RINC gave the town monies (from private donations??) for the study. Perhaps those philanthropists have the ability to pay for a lease on land that is more accessible to 95, 128, and Route 1. We have plenty of main roads in Norwood. We don't have anymore school land to give away.
Denis Drummey November 20, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Hi Folks as you will see when the feasability study is released, the money from the state will just be sufficient to build a quality rink. There is no money to lease or acquire land. If there were it would be prohibitive. The asking price on Decathalon is 7.9 Million and HQ just sold for 19 million. There is no philanthropist waiting to jump in. It must be Town Land and in a buildable state. I chaired the YMCA committees and that wouldn't have worked had Phil Balboni not generously donated his land that, in conjunction with the irregularly shaped land Norwood owned, allowed for a rectangular lot that worked. The Town sold that land not too long ago, so it is now gone. Mike Thornton, John Carroll, Mark Ryan, and myself have been more or less looking for quality land for a rink since 2003. Nobody is picking on South Norwood but frankly if there is another town-owned site, I can't think of it. RinC was very happy with the YMCA/University Ave site, so it is not so much where in town just that Norwood take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity. We are fully supportive of the Site Selection Committee and the folks above making suggestions. However, we have yet to hear of a specific site that is financially feasible. Denis Drummey
Pete Downing November 20, 2012 at 03:09 PM
The real issue here as Mr. Drummey points out is the town needs to do this on town land and for FREE. Why? Because we the Town Meeting Members voted to borrow $2.9 million on fixing the town hall and and allocate $1.2 million to the new DPW building. That is $4.1 million for anyone keeping a tally... Point is... the town cannot buy a new parcel of land even if we wanted to! That $4.1 million needs to be paid back somehow! Judith Langone alluded to that there will be a tough decision come the spring TMM. My guess... the topic of taxes or not building the new DPW building yet. Maybe our fearless town millionaire Ernie Boch Jr. can step up? Hey Ernie what do you say? Want your name on yet another fixture in the town? How about some land? I am being half serious!
Tina November 20, 2012 at 04:54 PM
If that's the case Mr Drummy then it should not be done. A rink us not a necessity. End of story. Pete Downing for Selectman!
Mr. Ragman November 20, 2012 at 06:01 PM
what you get for $5.6 million on 34,500 square feet is a 34,500 square foot POS. Imagine the costs to run such a facility, the electricity alone for the refrigeration systems run $40k a month at Iorio.
Josh Andrews November 20, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Iorio would not be in business if the rink business was not profitable.
Mr. Ragman November 20, 2012 at 08:37 PM
government should not be in any business that the private sector can do; rinks are lucrative, but with money comes corruption, something the state house and all its inhabitants know all to well including the one who 'brought' you this. I am sure there are many, many townies chomping at the bit to get a piece of this pie.
Zootie Maguire November 20, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Well, now we are getting down to business. Not monkey business. The rink is NOT a necessity. What is a necessity is implementing an educational plan that puts Norwood students in a superior academic program. This action results in a positive consequence; Norwood make the top 85 towns that quality for Advanced MCAS. Now, that is something to be proud of. I truly value the educaton I received and it's carried me in my world travels. I say time for a change in mentality. Let's WORK SMARTER AND NOT HARDER. Mr. Downing for Selectman....he's got my vote.


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